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Civic groups protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Jongno-gu, Seoul, demanding to stop the Seoul Sake Festival 2016 that may bring sakes contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster five years ago.

By Ko Dong-hwan

Civic groups protested against a Japanese sake festival in Seoul on Friday, in a bid to prevent visitors from tasting possibly dangerous alcohol produced in areas near the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster five years ago.

Eleven civic groups held a press conference in front of the Japanese Embassy in Jongno-gu, demanding that Japan stop the Seoul Sake Festival 2016.

“Seven of the participating Japanese breweries made their liquor in areas near Fukushima, where our government has warned of possible danger from radiation,” a protester said. “The breweries must have made their liquor using water and rice from the areas. Such liquors will jeopardize our health.”

Three breweries in Miyagi Prefecture, as well as from Iwate Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture participated in the festival. The Korean government stopped importing seafood from those areas in September 2013 to prevent possible radioactive contamination.

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One hundred Japanese breweries introduced about 400 sakes at COEX, eastern Seoul, from Saturday to Sunday.

In March 2011, Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant was hit by an earthquake-triggered tsunami. The impact caused a meltdown and release of radioactive material.

The Japanese embassy, according to Hankook Ilbo, said, “The festival organizers didn’t check whether the participating breweries were from areas that possibly were compromised by radioactive contamination, but all the food and liquor in the festival were tested in Japan and Korea.”

One hundred Japanese breweries introduced about 400 sakes at COEX, eastern Seoul, from Saturday to Sunday.

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