Japan Eclipses France as Culinary King But skeptics take issue with Michelin Guide assessment By Dustin Lushing, Newser Staff Posted Oct 21, 2011 4:14 PM CDT 4 comments Comments (FILES) This file photo taken on November 21, 2007 shows a Shinto priest (L) leading Michelin mascot Bibendum (R) to an altar while director of the Michelin guides. (Getty Images) (Newser) – Japan has overtaken France as the fine dining capital of the world—at least according to the latest Michelin Guide, reports ABC News. The newly released 2012 edition of the influential guide has bestowed 29 Japanese eateries with a 3-star rating—the highest possible grade—compared with 25 in France. Japan collected a whopping total of 296 stars. However, not everyone in the gastronomic world agrees with the assessment. Some Western food critics are crying grade inflation, while others claim the massive star handout is just a way for the tire company to boost its brand in Japan. Even some Japanese chefs are suspicious of whether the mostly European judging committee could discern great Japanese cuisine from the mediocre.