A Campaign to Tackle “Misinformation” about Radioactive Contamination

Masahiro Imamura, Minister for Reconstruction, wants to launch a large-scale campaign, to correct the incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture; as an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination” crippling Fukushima foods. That means more propaganda to come, more lies to hide the real risks of radiation to the people’s health. As if propaganda, to brainwash the people with a large-scale campaign would be the solution to make radiation disappear.

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 Reconstruction chief Masahiro Imamura

Reconstruction chief praises efforts in Tohoku, flags information campaign on radiation risks

Minister for reconstruction Masahiro Imamura has praised efforts to rebuild the devastated Tohoku region but says a large-scale information campaign is needed to share accurate information about radiation six years after the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Imamura outlined the plan in a recent interview in response to what he said was incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture.

It also comes as a growing number of children who evacuated from the prefecture fall victim to bullying.

Massive amounts of radioactive substances were emitted from the plant soon after it was knocked out by massive tsunami from the 9.0-magnitude March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, which hit hardest in Fukushima and the nearby prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate.

Asked about the degree of progress in reconstructing areas hit by the disaster, Imamura said, “Acquisition of land and other procedures needed for the restoration of damaged infrastructure initially took time, but the pace of construction work was very rapid once it was launched.”

From now, we should focus on the rebuilding of Fukushima,” he said, noting that medium- to long-term measures should be promoted, including decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant and decontaminating areas polluted with radioactive fallout.

We want to encourage evacuees to return to their hometowns in Fukushima by presenting future visions for the communities through improving the living environment and accelerating the revival of local industries,” Imamura added.

On how to tackle the incidences of bullying targeting evacuated Fukushima children, Imamura said, “We’ll strengthen information-sharing about radiation. All government agencies should jointly work to compile and launch a campaign for that purpose, while obtaining cooperation from private companies.

This is an issue for not only children, but adults,” he said. “We’ll prepare documents and other materials that are easy to understand in order to eliminate prejudice against evacuated people.”

Imamura said the campaign would also be an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination crippling Fukushima foods.”

I’ll seek cooperation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well,” he said.

Imamura said he believed the Reconstruction Agency’s efforts to date to rebuild areas affected by the March 2011 disaster have been praised to a certain degree. Still, he pointed to the importance of re-examining whether information on what affected areas need has been properly conveyed to the Reconstruction Agency and other government bodies.

Imamura said Japan’s aging population and low birthrate were also contributing to shrinking communities across the nation — something he described as a structural problem.

It’s important to build a system that generates profits through stepped-up use of information technology and the modernization of factory equipment, even if human resources are limited,” he said.

We need to check again whether communities will be able to smoothly help one another in times of disaster, although lessons from the March 2011 disaster were effectively utilized in a series of powerful earthquakes that mainly hit Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, and the October 2016 strong quake in Tottori Prefecture,” Imamura added.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/reconstruction-chief-praises-efforts-tohoku-flags-information-campaign-radiation-risks/#.WNJEq6KmnIV

South Korea Expanded Japanese Fish Ban Over Fukushima Contamination

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South Korea, on Friday, expanded its ban on Japanese fisheries products over concerns of contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The government in Seoul accuses Japan of not providing enough information on the crisis.

Consumption of fish products in South Korea has dropped sharply in recent weeks as concerns grow that workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP struggle to contain leaks.

Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that “up to 300 tons of mildly contaminated groundwater is making its way into the Pacific Ocean every day”; a situation that has been going on for years. Moreover, TEPCO recently admitted that “highly toxic water made its way into the Pacific Ocean”.

South Korea previously imposed an import ban on dozens of Japanese fisheries products produced in Fukushima and sever other prefectures following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP following a massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in 2011.

The government in Seoul has now widened the ban to all fisheries products from Fukushima prefecture as well as the prefectures of  Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori. South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries issued a statement stressing that:

The measure comes as our people’s concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water leak every day from the site of Japan’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. … The government has concluded that the information provided by Japan so far has failed to make it clear how the incident will develop in the future. … Under the new measure, all fisheries products from this region will be banned regardless of whether they are contaminated or not.”

The Ministry also urged the government in Tokyo to immediately provide full and accurate information on leaks of contaminated water. A growing number of radiation and environmental health experts stress that the claim that dilution of the radioactive water in the “vast Pacific Ocean” would make it safe to ingest fish caught off shore is right-out wrong and misleading because:

  • The bio accumulation of radioactive nuclei in fish;

  • The ingestion of one single isotope may, depending on what isotope it is and where it is lodged in the human body, cause various forms of cancer.

  • Eating fish from a batch that passed a “Geiger counter” test is in other words still like “participating in a fishy cancer lottery”.

However, in Tokyo on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga challenged South Korea over the ban and claimed:

We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence.”

What Suga conveniently omitted was that Japan, following the nuclear disaster in 2011, changed its regulations – apparently because Japanese experts suddenly realized that the human body (and the Japanese economy) can “safely tolerate much higher doses” than thought before the disaster. Moreover, the contamination in Japan is according to many independent observers so bad that one would have to probe each single food item separately to be “relatively safe”.

Earlier this week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged global concerns over the “haphazard” management of the crisis by TEPCO and said his administration will step in with public money to get the job done. Abe didn’t specify how this “public money” should be spent, how much will be made available, how Japan wants to end the “haphazard approach” to the crisis, and maybe most importantly, who the recipient of this money would be.

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In November 2015 former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Mitshei Murata called on the President of the International Olympic Committee to move the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo or to cancel the games over together.

In May 2016 private activists in Japan accused Tokyo of “cooking data”. Radiation readings conducted by private activists, 40 km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility are about eight to ten times higher than those published by authorities, said Yoichi Tao who majored in physics.

Research by Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, showing that the rate of children suffering from thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture was as much as 20 to 50 times higher than the national average as of 2014 is being dismissed as based on “over diagnosing”.

Moreover, Japan has introduced strict legislation that can be used to put anyone who publishes not officially approved data about Fukushima or anyone who “leaks” information rather than radiation behind bars for up to ten years. This includes investigative journalists.

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In 2014 independent journalists like Mako Oshidori received a thinly-veiled threat from TEPCO when she reported about the death of Fukushima cleanup workers, and who stressed she was “intimidated by police“. Mako courageously reported that she discovered a TEPCO memo, in which the Fukushima Daiichi operator TEPCO instructs officials to “cut Mako-chan’s (questions) short, appropriately”. Mako Oshidori was enrolled in the School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine for three years.

Mako revealed that TEPCO and the government cover-up the death of Fukushima workers and that government agents began following her around after she began investigating the cover-up. Mako said:

I heard about it from researchers who were my friends as well as some government officials. I will show you a photo I secretly took of the agent, so you know what kind of surveillance I mean. When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation….

I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at (the) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) after the accident. .. He was a nurse at Fukushima Daiichi NPP in 2012. He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him. …

As of now of now, there are multiple NPP workers who have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported. …

Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers”.

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TEPCO memo, advising to “cut short” Mako Oshidori’s questions, e.t.c

However, the new legislation that “empowered” the government to impose ten year prison sentences for “unauthorized” journalism and dissemination of unauthorized information about the Fukushima Daiichi NPP and related issues for reasons of “national security” has since then largely silenced Mako, and many other journalists, experts in health, environmental health, environmental studies, radiation studies …

Is Seoul “over reacting” and is Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga right when he claims: “We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence”? What evidence, sampled by whom, analyzed on the basis of ???  . …

https://nsnbc.me/2017/03/18/south-korea-expanded-japanese-fish-ban-over-fukushima-contamination/

Japan urged by China to deal with Fukushima-affected food

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Officers from the Beijing Food and Drug Administration check imported food at a supermarket on Thursday.

Report finds many e-commerce sites selling potentially unsafe products

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged the Japanese government to take more effective measures to handle the environmental aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and disclose information to ensure marine environmental safety and the safety of people in other countries.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the comment on Thursday following exposure by China’s State television station that food products from areas affected by the nuclear disaster in Japan are being sold in China.

China’s top food regulator promised on Thursday to punish such irregularities involving food safety exposed in China Central Television’s annual World Consumer Rights Day program on Wednesday.

“We have demanded local food and drug supervision authorities investigate the irregularities and transfer criminal suspects to public security authorities,” the China Food and Drug Administration said.

Food and drug authorities must strengthen supervision over food safety and severely punish culprits, it said.

Food from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have been sold on many e-commerce platforms in China and in some brick-and-mortar shops, including dairy, cereal, rice and wine, CCTV reported.

Although some of the products had labeling in Japanese that specified manufacturing locations such as Tokyo and Tochigi, they were covered by Chinese labels that only stated the manufacturing location as Japan, the report said.

China has banned the importation of food and animal feed from Tokyo and 11 prefectures, including Fukushima, Niigata-ken and Tochigi, since April 2011 to guard against risks, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Major supermarkets and e-commerce platforms in Beijing started to inspect imported food products following the CCTV report and found no product from any of the 12 areas, Ji Ye, an official at Beijing Food and Drug Administration, said.

The administration is also conducting inspections of food enterprises in Beijing, including MUJI and 7-Eleven, and will recall any product that is imported from the affected areas, he said.

More than 13,000 online shops in China were suspected of selling food from these banned areas, according to the Shenzhen Market and Quality Supervision Commission, CCTV reported.

Law enforcement officers from the commission found nearly 20,000 packages of “Calbee” brand oatmeal, which is from Tochigi, at a company in Shenzhen, the report said.

Some supermarkets, including Japanese brand MUJI, are also suspected of violations, CCTV said.

MUJI said on Thursday that the two kinds of products, a cereal beverage and a muffin, are made in Fukui-ken and Osaka, which are not on the list of imports banned by China’s quality supervision authorities.

http://www.ecns.cn/2017/03-17/249602.shtml

http://www.pressreader.com/china/china-daily/20170317/281694024591810

Fukushima, Japan Ban On Fish Exports Over? After Nuclear Radiation Disaster, Countries Could Lift Embargo

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After years of banning Japan’s fish and agriculture, many countries might be willing to give the nation a second chance and import its goods. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 and the resulting radiation in the region caused 54 countries and regions to implement restrictions on certain Japanese goods.

That number has shrunken to 33, with more nations likely to follow suit and lift the ban, the Japan Times reported Wednesday.

We are looking forward to the lifting of the South Korean import ban,” Masao Atsumi, a sea-squirt farmer in Miyagi prefecture, told the Japan Times.

South Korea, which received about 70 percent of Japan’s sea squirt exports, imposed a ban on fish imports from eight prefectures in Japan in 2013.

The European Union began easing its own restrictions on Japanese imports in 2016. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and Russia all continued to ban products from certain regions.

Lifting such restrictions could be a sign that Japan, still heavily burdened by the disaster six years later, was on the road to recovery. The nuclear meltdown left a zone of more than 300 miles surrounding the plant uninhabitable, causing the evacuation of 160,000 residents. Many of those residents were set to begin returning in the coming days.

Despite progress, serious problems have continued to pervade the region. Due to melted fuel debris, radiation in the nuclear plant recently reached the highest levels ever recorded inside, with experts calling it “unimaginable.” Radiation reached such elevated levels that the robots tasked with cleaning the reactor could not survive. Tokyo Electric Power Company, the group responsible for the cleanup, was still struggling to complete the $188 billion recovery process to decommission the plant, a project estimated to take decades.

The barren region left behind by the disaster also has a wild boar problem. Hundreds of the animals began invading towns surrounding the defunct plant after residents fled, scavenging for food and virtually taking over.

http://www.ibtimes.com/fukushima-japan-ban-fish-exports-over-after-nuclear-radiation-disaster-countries-2508805

2020 Olympic food suppliers lack necessary food safety certification

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As the organizers of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics work on ensuring that food provided during the tournament will be safe, the games face a huge shortage of domestic food producers with the necessary food safety certification.

The certification in question is known as “Good agricultural practice,” or GAP for short. Ever since the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, the provision of GAP-certified food and drink to venues such as the Olympic Village has become increasingly important.

However, the number of producers in Japan who hold GAP certification is extremely low — partly due to high costs and a lack of knowledge about GAP among consumers. It is thought that less than 1 percent of food producers in Japan hold either the Global GAP or Japanese GAP certification.

This is an issue for producers because the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Games is on the verge of finalizing criteria for food safety during the tournament — with much of the criteria expected to revolve around GAP certification.

In response to the current shortage of GAP-certified producers in Japan, an official close to the government commented, “If we keep going at this pace, there is a real danger than there won’t be enough domestically produced food available during the Games.” This would be a great shame because the country has a multitude of wonderful food and drink on offer, such as “wagyu” (Japanese beef) and Japanese tea.

Furthermore, it is expected that about 15 million meals will need to be provided during the 2020 Olympics, so naturally, it will be an excellent opportunity to showcase Japanese food to the rest of the world.

There is a modified version of GAP in Japan — based on Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) guidelines — but just five of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including Shimane and Tokushima, follow it.

A British version of GAP known as “Red Tractor” was introduced prior to the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. In total, 80 percent of food producers who supplied the tournament in London picked up the Red Tractor certification by 2010. Such a system may well provide inspiration for Japanese farmers.

GAP is an important certification because it helps stop the mixing in of any improper substances during the food production process. For example, under GAP regulations, pesticides must be stored safely in a locked room. Also, any fluorescent lighting close to agricultural produce should be covered accordingly.

However, although GAP certification is undeniably well-intended, farmers wanting to apply must pay an annual registration fee in the region of several thousand yen per year, and depending on the size of the farm, there is a screening fee in the region of 100,000 to 400,000 yen per year. In addition, awareness about GAP is low among distributors and consumers, and the fact that GAP certification would not be accepted as a reason for raising food prices means that there are several hurdles for producers.

The government does plan to provide some financial support in this area, but for the time being, awareness across Japan about GAP certification remains a pressing issue.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170305/p2a/00m/0na/001000c

Agency to probe reasons behind underpricing of Fukushima items

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Prices of agricultural products and foodstuffs from Fukushima Prefecture declined after the nuclear plant accident in March 2011, and almost six years later, have yet to recover to pre-disaster levels.

Now the government is seeking to ascertain why these items are still being sold at lower prices, suspecting that wholesalers are deliberately underpricing products being shipped from the prefecture.

The Reconstruction Agency will survey wholesalers’ purchase prices of Fukushima-made food products, according to sources.

The agency believes crops and other items grown in the prefecture are being undersold because of the negative effects of groundless rumors stemming from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The latest decision is aimed at preventing the spread of those rumors.

The agency’s plan is expected to be included in a draft revision of the Law on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima, to be submitted during the current Diet session.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered the nuclear accident, Fukushima-made foodstuffs have been shipped only after their radioactivity levels are confirmed to be below safety standards.

The levels for those agricultural and other products typically fall below detectable levels, meaning most foodstuffs from Fukushima Prefecture are completely safe to eat.

Despite the fact, trading prices of rice and beef produced in the prefecture are still nearly 10 percent lower than national averages, according to the agency.

The agency suspects that the prices have not recovered to their pre-disaster levels not only because consumers tend to avoid Fukushima-made articles, but also because they are “purchased at unreasonably low rates” at the time of shipping.

When prices to wholesalers of food products grown in the prefecture are lower than pre-disaster rates, farmers can be compensated for the difference by Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Some wholesalers may knock down the price, misusing the compensation system,” said a source at the Reconstruction Agency.

To prevent the abuse of the compensation system, the special measures law will be amended to include a plan to conduct “a survey to make clear why they (Fukushima-made products) are suffering from sluggish sales.”

Based on the revised law, the agency will survey the prices farmers are selling their crops for to wholesalers, how much consumers are paying for the agricultural products and other trading prices of foodstuffs from Fukushima Prefecture.

After identifying the reason for the lower prices, the agency will offer instructions and advice to wholesalers and other related parties.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702150001.html

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Fukushima peach exports recover in Southeast Asia, sparking hope for other produce???

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The original article was published by Fukushima Minpo, local Fukushima Newspaper, which promotes “recovery”.To export your contaminated fruits to other countries is plainly criminal.

Fukushima peaches are making inroads into Southeast Asian markets in what prefectural officials see as a model case of recovery in its farm produce.

Fukushima grabbed the top share of Japanese peach exports to three Southeast Asian countries last year — 73.9 percent in Thailand, 76.8 percent in Malaysia and 55.9 percent in Indonesia.

In terms of volume, Fukushima exported a combined 30.6 tons of peaches to the three countries plus Singapore in 2016, surpassing the 23.9 tons logged in 2010 — the year before the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant shattered trust in its farm produce in March 2011.

Given the improved figures, the Fukushima Prefectural Government now believes the measures it took to combat harmful rumors are paying off. It hopes to revive sales channels for other produce by using the recovery of peach exports as a base.

The prefectural government announced the export data at the end of January based on the Finance Ministry’s trade statistics for 2016 and other figures compiled by the Fukushima headquarters of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, or JA Zen-Noh.

Fukushima is the nation’s No. 2 peach-growing prefecture after Yamanashi and has been dubbed a “fruit kingdom” for the wide variety grown, including cherries, grapes, pears and apples.

Its peach exports peaked at 70 tons in 2008, thanks mainly to Taiwan and Hong Kong, but import bans imposed from the Fukushima disaster saw the peach trade collapse to zero in 2011.

According to the prefecture’s public relations office, Fukushima was quick to review its sales strategy and shift focus to Southeast Asia, where some countries eased import restrictions on its produce at an early stage.

A decision to promote the sweetness and freshness of Fukushima peaches was also a major factor in grabbing the hearts of consumers, the office said.

Despite the success in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, it may take time before other countries in the region follow suit.

In Singapore, for example, Fukushima peaches last year had a market share of only 12 percent among all peaches the city-state imported from Japan.

The prefecture is hoping that the improvements in the three countries will help persuade other markets, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, that its peaches are safe.

The recovery of the fruit’s reputation overseas has provided great encouragement to the prefecture’s peach growers, including Shigeyoshi Saito, 58, of the city of Date.

Along with other items, peaches are a main pillar of Fukushima’s farm produce,” he said. “I hope their good reputation in Southeast Asia will spread the word to the entire world.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/19/national/fukushima-peach-exports-recover-southeast-asia-sparking-hope-produce/#.WKoHZvL9KM8