Legislation calling for greater efforts to curb the waste of edible food — at every stage from production to consumption — has been enacted by the Diet. It requires the national government to come up with a basic policy to address the "food loss" problem and makes it mandatory for local governments to craft specific plans of action. While the problem of overproduction and sales is often highlighted in discussing the issue, consumers can play a significant role in reducing such waste by changing their own behavior.

The government estimates that of the 27.59 million tons of food wasted in this country in fiscal 2016, food still fit for consumption amounted to 6.43 million tons — a volume that has remained roughly unchanged for the past several years. That is equivalent to each person in Japan throwing away one rice bowl of food every day — roughly double the annual worldwide food aid distributed to poor countries suffering from food shortages.

Food waste is an increasingly serious problem worldwide. Roughly 1.3 billion tons of food is reportedly wasted globally each year — even as more than 800 million people worldwide continue to suffer from malnutrition. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for halving per capita food waste by 2030. Overproduction of food and the disposal of food also result in wasteful energy consumption and the discharge of gases that contribute to global warming. Cutting back on food waste is a particularly serious challenge for Japan since it relies heavily on imports to meet its food demand.