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Kisaku Suzuki, creator of the world’s first sushi robot, once ran a company that made candy-wrapping machines. And he was angry.

Why had the Japanese government embarked on a policy to limit rice production, effectively paying some farmers to keep their paddy fields idle? For Suzuki, rice was the sacred heart of the country’s economy. He started to think about how to make the staple food more popular, so that Japan had no reason to restrict the crop.

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