National

University of Tokyo offers halal chocolates ahead of Valentine's Day

Kyodo

The University of Tokyo is selling halal chocolates online for Valentine’s Day to raise public awareness of foods that are prepared according to Muslim standards.

Hanan Chocolates have been produced by a Tokyo maker using soy emulsifier and no animal-origin ingredients. The products — milk as well as white and dark chocolates — have acquired halal certification by the nonprofit Nippon Asia Halal Association as permissible under Islamic law.

Emi Goto, associate professor specializing in modern Islamic studies at the university, said that as Muslims in Japan are a minority and often face prejudice, she hopes the chocolates will help bridge the gap between different cultures and religions.

“We hope people will understand halal through the chocolates and start caring for each other rather than being segmented,” she said.

A box containing 30 chocolates sells for ¥1,080 (about $10) at the university’s communication center and on its website.

The item comes with a message card with illustrations of cats, a revered animal in Islam as it was loved by the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

In Japan, women give chocolates to men on Feb. 14, and men who received chocolates are expected to reciprocate on March 14, dubbed “White Day.”

People in some Muslim countries also give sweets on Valentine’s Day.

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