Aside from the schoolgirl panty thing, which is so bizarre it probably shocks the cancer out of the whole country...
Maybe it's a genetic thing. We're such a melting pot. I know that some races are more prone to certain diseases, or high blood pressure, etc. Also, things like longevity seem (my observation only) to run in families. Maybe the Japanese just have an awesome screw-you-cancer gene.
Just a thought.
Smoking aside, when you talk to Japanese about cancer it is almost always stomach cancer that is referred to as the number one cancer. Japanese doctors I have talked to attribute it to salt in the diet. A traditional meal would be fish (if soy sauce=salt), miso soup (salt), pickles (salt), and some sort of veggies with soy sauce or miso (salt) and rice. Lunch out might be ramen (salt) or other noodles (salt), etc. I was recently diagnosed as gluten intolerant and I NEVER eat out in Japan now because everything has soy sauce in it.
As far as carb consumption goes, yes, there is a lot of rice eaten but have you seen the size of a bowl? A Japanese rice bowl is the size of my hand cupped. That's it. When I see the bento lunches that the office ladies have it is soooo small. So portion is certainly different compared to a Western diet.
Cancer rates are going to be catching up to the West due to diet changes. Lots more junk and fast food consumed now.
Well, I'm not surprised that a traditional diet, heavy in fish and vegetables and low in junk food, equals a low cancer rate. There's not much of a mystery there to me. Yes rice is consumed, but mainly white rice which is thought of as the best of the worst in terms of anti-nutrients anyway. When you think about it, the traditional Japanese diet, at its core, is basically a paleo diet with a little white rice thrown it, it's not surprising that the cancer rate is so much lower.
I once dreamed that eating steak and butter would be considered healthy and now it is. Maybe someday I can get back my cigarettes - I loved those little suckers.