America's No. 3 burger chain has ended it's 29-year presence in Japan. Zensho Co. Ltd., which operates the restaurants in Japan, will end it's agreement with Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. and close its 71 locations by the end of the month. I couldn't find the exact reason for the decision, but in an AP article(here), a Zensho spokesman gave a canned response to reporters. "[We] will focus our resources on beef bowl restaurants and others." An article in Newsweek points out that Japan is going through a bit of a food crisis: it imports 60% of its yearly caloric intake, 90% of its corn comes from the United States, and 70% of its farmers are over 60 years of age. Those are all interesting figures, but Japan would do well to consider that 100% of Wendy's hamburgers are square and juicy. Surely that could solve a problem or two.
In Ashikaga, the smallish city where I lived, McDonald's and KFC were the only American fast food places available. My frequent trips to Tokyo were my only chance to see other familiar fast-food chains from home. I ate at the restaurant near Ebisu station lots of times on the way to and from parties and whatnot. It's the only place in the whole country I knew of where I could eat chili, so on a cold day that was the place to be. Add in frosties and those spicy chicken sandwiches, and you had gold. Gold! Why does Japan hate deliciousness?