NHK’s “Close-up Gendai Plus” on Thursday reported on surging prices for freshwater eel in Japan due to an increase in the price of young glass eels, which are required for eel farming in Japan. The program said since there are not enough glass eel in Japan, they are imported in volume from Hong Kong. However, many of the glass eels imported from Hong Kong are actually caught in Taiwan and smuggled into Hong Kong for export to Japan because Taiwan banned glass eel exports to Japan in 2007 to conserve the species. The program referred to this as “eel laundering.” Since the Japanese custom of eating eel on the Midsummer Day of the Ox is apparently one of the reasons behind the surging prices, some eel farmers no longer increase output in anticipation of a surge in consumption on that day. Likewise many restauraunts have given up using the Day of the Ox to promote eel dishes.