Fukushima food promoted in Paris

The Japanese embassies and their diplomats continue their intensive promotion campaign to export Fukushima contaminated produce overseas….
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The governor of Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is in Paris to promote farm products that are suffering from a damaged reputation following the 2011 nuclear accident.
 
Masao Uchibori is visiting Europe following the 7th anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Uchibori organized the “Fukushima Pride” tasting event on Saturday at a shopping mall near Paris. Rice and fruit products were handed out to shoppers.
 
One visitor said she likes the dried peaches a lot and is not concerned about the safety of Fukushima produce now that it is widely circulated.
 
France has seen Japanese cuisine surge in popularity, which is pushing up the import of luxury foodstuffs and sake rice wine.
 
Uchibori expressed hope that France will help Fukushima overcome lingering concerns about the safety of its food and make inroads into the global market.
 
The Japanese government has been calling on other countries to lift import restrictions on its food products, after they cleared radiation screening.
 
In December, the European Union lifted import controls on some produce and seafood from regions affected by the nuclear accident.
 
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China must exercise caution in lifting ban on import of Japanese food

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According to Kyodo News Agency, China and Japan recently held talks on whether to ease or lift the ban on food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the Chinese government offering to set up a working group on the issue. There has been no official confirmation from the Chinese side.
 
The earthquake, which rocked Japan in March, 2011, caused a radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after which the Chinese government immediately banned food from Japanese prefectures surrounding the facility. Neither Beijing nor Tokyo has released any statement on lifting the ban, yet the Kyodo News Agency report attracted wide attention.
 
Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012, rebuilding people’s confidence in affected areas both at home and abroad has become his major task. During the lower house election in 2014, Abe tasted grilled fish in Fukushima. When Britain’s Prince William visited Japan in 2015, Abe invited him to visit Fukushima and enjoy local food with ingredients from local producers. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono brought Fukushima peach juice to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during his visit to the UK in December 2017.
 
The Abe administration has been proactively promoting the safety of Fukushima food on public occasions, with little success. According to research revealed by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute in 2016, many people are feeling more anxious about radiation in Fukushima. According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, China, the US, Russia, South Korea, Singapore and other countries have kept their bans on importing food produced in some regions or sometimes from the whole country. This has been an awkward reality for Abe’s administration.
 
It remains to be seen whether the working group will be eventually established. But it is an indisputable fact that Abe’s administration has repeatedly requested the Chinese government to lift the ban on food imports over the past few years. For example, during the agricultural vice-ministerial meeting in Beijing in 2016, the Japanese side had hoped that China will remove food import restrictions. However, China did not give any specific reply. When Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, visited Beijing in December last year, he also expressed his wish of easing the import ban to the head of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
 
It can be argued that China is Japan’s primary destination for food exports from affected areas including Fukushima. This is not only because China has a huge market, but also because any Chinese move will be likely followed by other Asian countries.
 
With recent improvements in Sino-Japanese ties, the possibility of setting up a special working group cannot be ruled out. However, even if the group is established, Beijing may not completely lift import restrictions on Japanese food. On the one hand, the key to lifting the ban lies in whether food products from Japan can meet Chinese standards. On the other, Chinese people’s doubts over the food in the affected areas also play a crucial role. Even if imported food from Japan’s disaster-affected region passed Chinese tests, it is not very likely to appear on Chinese dining tables given the distrust of the Chinese public.
 
China and Japan are lately cooperating in a number of fields including economy and politics. Import and export of agricultural products is a vital link in the cooperation trail. According to a Xinhua report in March, some food from Japan’s affected areas was flowing to China via e-commerce platforms, posing a severe safety risk to Chinese consumers. Therefore, when it comes to lifting the ban on food from disaster affected areas, China should exercise caution. Political interaction is important, but people’s well-being is above all.
By Chen Yang Source:Global Times Published
The author is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Sociology at Toyo University.

China proposes talks aimed at easing Fukushima-linked food import ban

Two interesting points mentioned in this Japan Times article:
For China  a radiation inspection is also needed for some products produced outside the 10 affected prefectures, which are mostly in eastern and northeastern regions.
Even food shipped to China from prefectures not subject to the restriction is required to come with a certificate of origin.
A important question comes to me though: should we trust  Japanese food certificates of origin the same as the japanese steel industry safety?
China has proposed talks with Japan on whether to ease or lift an import ban on food from 10 prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan-China diplomatic sources said Sunday.
The Chinese side offered to set up a working group to discuss the matter in response to a request by a Japanese lawmaker to relax import restrictions.
The development may be a sign that the governments of the two countries are looking for ways to mend bilateral ties as they mark in 2018 the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China.
Zhi Shuping, the head of China’s certification and quarantine administration, made the proposal Friday when he met in Beijing with Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the sources said.
Earlier, a delegation of Japan’s ruling LDp-Komeito coalition led by Nikai met President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials.
While the two sides have not decided when to establish the working group, it shows a clear shift in Beijing’s stance on the issue, according to a Japanese government source.
Over 50 countries and regions imposed import bans on some agricultural and fishery products from Japan after the Fukushima disaster. Nine countries and regions including China and South Korea still have import restrictions in place.
Even food shipped to China from prefectures not subject to the restriction is required to come with a certificate of origin. A radiation inspection is also needed for some products produced outside the 10 affected prefectures, which are mostly in eastern and northeastern regions.

Safety of Fukushima food known less overseas

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A survey by Japanese researchers shows that many overseas consumers still worry about the safety of food from the disaster-hit region of Fukushima, and are unaware of measures taken to ensure its safety.
 
The researchers from Fukushima University and the University of Tokyo conducted the online survey of 10 countries and regions. They include China, South Korea, the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.
 
About 30 percent of Japanese consumers said they worry about food from Fukushima. This compares to 80 percent in Taiwan, 70 percent in South Korea, and 60 percent in China.
 
The survey also found that 30 to 50 percent of people in the countries worry about food from all of eastern Japan.
 
Asked if they know that all rice from Fukushima goes through radiation tests, 30 percent of Chinese consumers said yes. The figure was 10 percent for South Korea, Britain and Germany.
 
Sample testing for vegetables and fruit from Fukushima and surrounding areas are known to 20 percent of overseas consumers.
 
An import ban and other restrictions on farm and marine products from Fukushima are still in place mainly in countries and regions in Asia, more than 6 years after the nuclear accident.
 
University of Tokyo researcher Naoya Sekiya says a ‘lack of knowledge’ has resulted in the prolonged import restrictions. He said there’s a need to publicize that ‘utmost safety checks’ are being conducted.
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Testimony of a mother who evacuated from Tokyo

Listen to her testimony (in English).

She evacuated from Tokyo to Kobe in west Japan to protect her daughter.
The contamination does not stop at the Fukushima department border. Tokyo is also contaminated.

 

Transcription (note 1):
I am standing here to tell you that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is not over.
I evacuated to Kansai (note2), three years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.
Where do you think I evacuated from?
I evacuated from Tokyo!
Do you know that Tokyo has serious radioactive contamination?
Tens of millions of people in east Japan live with radioactive contamination now.
I have a daughter who was 5 years old at the time of the accident.
She became very sick one year after the accident.
In fact, my daughter became so sick that she could not live a normal life at all.
However, when she stayed in a place where there was no radioactive contamination, my daughter became so well. But when we returned to Tokyo, my daughter became sick again.
We did not have the option to stay in Tokyo, we just fled from Tokyo and came here.
Living in east Japan means living with many radioactive materials, and it is not a place where people can live healthily.
We are calling for evacuation to west Japan.
We are evacuees from eastern Japan.
Our existence will not be broadcasted on radio waves or published in newspapers. So, I am telling you about it now.
After the accident, we were told that radiation was not a problem, health damages would not occur.
But it was not true.
Many of us have evacuated from east to west due to various health problems.
Many people are getting sick today in east Japan.
People are dying without noticing that it is due to radiation.
Many Japanese can not face this nuclear catastrophe.
Please try to know what is going on in Japan now.
We are telling the world that the nuclear disaster is far from being over.
Note 1: We thank Ms Yoko Chase for her proofreading of the text prepared by Ms Yoko Shimozawa.
Note 2: The region in west Japan, including large cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

New Study: Over a Trillion becquerels of Fukushima radiocesium fell on Hawaii

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University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Oct 31, 2017
Fukushima-derived radiocesium fallout in Hawaiian soils… This study estimated the magnitude of cesium deposition in soil, collected in 2015-2016, resulting from atmospheric fallout… Detectable, Fukushima-derived 134Cs inventories ranged from 30 to 630 Bq m-2 and 137Cs inventories ranged from 20 to 2200 Bq m-2… This research confirmed and quantified the presence of Fukushima-derived fallout in the state of Hawai’i in amounts higher than predicted by models and observed in the United States mainland…
The Hawaiian Islands were expected to get minimal, below 10 Bq m-2 or lower, of Fukushima-derived fallout…
Fukushima-derived soil radiocesium concentrations, were greater than anticipated based on model-predicted Pacific atmospheric dispersion rates…
Maximum estimated values of 134Cs fallout on the islands of Hawaii and O’ahu constrained by precipitation and data from sites with less than 70% canopy cover were obtained by linear interpolation of all measured soil cesium concentrations, resulting in 134Cs fallout ranging from < 60 to 1000 Bq m-2 [According to this study, “The Fukushima-derived fallout… 134Cs to 137Cs ratio was 1:1” — therefore 137Cs fallout from Fukushima was also 60 to 1000 Bq m-2, making the total radiocesium 120 to 2000 Bq m-2. Compare this to the study’s previous statement that “The Hawaiian Islands were expected to get minimal, below 10 Bq m-2 or lower, of Fukushima-derived fallout”]…
Using the conservative values and integrating over the whole area with rainfall above 200 mm, we estimate that the island of Hawaii received 1.50 x 10^12 Bq [1.5 Trillion Bq] of 134Cs and 137Cs, each isotope contributing 50%, between March 19 and April 4, 2011…
Atmospheric dispersion models predicted the majority of the plume to travel a more northern route over the Aleutian Islands… however, suggesting that the Fukushima-derived aerosol plume may have taken an alternative southern path. Our radiocesium fallout inventories are comparatively higher than those estimated and measured in North America. Previous research that used whole-water wet deposition to predict ‘its fallout in North America estimated up to 180 Bq m -2 in Alaska, 46 Bq m -2 in California, and 29 Bq m -2 in Washington State…
This is the first study to our knowledge studying Fukushima-derived fallout in the Pacific Islands…
Fukushima-derived radiocesium fallout in Hawaiian soils

Activists call on artists to join protests against 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

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The idea of the Olympics as a sporting event complemented by culture goes back to Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games. The Olympic Charter also states that the Olympic Movement is composed of sport, culture and education. These elements were often blended, as in the prewar Games that included such events as poetry and painting. From 1912 to 1948, arts competitions were held in parallel with the sporting events, though growing discontent meant this curiously hybrid system was jettisoned in favour of separate arts and cultural festivals held alongside the sports. From Barcelona in 1992, the idea of a Cultural Olympiad took hold, whereby a series of arts and cultural events would be organized during the four-year Olympiad period to culminate with the Games, though this had already happened de facto at past Games.
Now the leading figures in the protest movement against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have called for an anti-Cultural Olympiad. In the recently published Anti-Olympics Arts Council Statement of Purpose, activists point to the destruction of public housing and eviction of homeless people as part of the preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo. The statement ends with a call to action:
For residents of urban areas, and especially the poor, the Olympic/Paralympic Games are nothing but a huge catastrophe. We, the Anti-Olympic Arts Council, call for you to resist and protest against these mega events. We call on artists, performers, poets, and all that use the arts as their medium—oppose the Olympic Games.
It is often said that artists in Japan have avoided direct political engagement in past decades, preferring more oblique modes of socially engaged practice, though the post-Fukushima zeitgeist has certainly produced some prominent examples of overtly politicized art. The prospect of the Olympics and Cultural Olympiad in 2020, given the geopolitical situation in the region as well as such ongoing major socio-cultural questions as Fukushima, Constitutional change and Japan’s demographic time bomb, necessarily conjure up a dilemma for the arts. How will the arts respond? Will artists protest, ignore, borrow or participate?
 
The most notable and lasting case of an artistic response to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics is surely Kon Ichikawa’s nearly three-hour documentary film Tokyo Olympiad (1965). Arguably, the Olympics “propaganda” film subverts the brief, focusing on many of the small moments and the ordinary people among the spectators. It starts with the rising sun and then a wrecking ball while the narration enumerates the iterations of the modern Games and their host cities. The Olympics have noble aspirations, as Ichikawa acknowledges from the opening epigraph, but the reality, at least initially, is demolition. It ultimately segues into a somewhat more predictable, yet staggeringly meticulous, hymn to the facilities created for the 1964 sporting events, the participating athletes and the competitions themselves, but the underlying social commentary is more subtle.
The 1964 Olympics were more conspicuously satirised by the art collective Hi-Red Center when its members set about cleaning the streets of Ginza in white lab coats, a stunt intended to mock the city’s attempts to spruce up its appearance ahead of the Games. Recent moves in Japan to expunge pornographic magazines from retail outlets is an indication of the “cleaning” likely to take place prior to 2020.
One of the early projects of Akira Takayama’s theater collective Port B examined both the famous 1964 Games but also Japan’s “phantom Olympics”, the 1940 Games that were canceled due to World War Two. Tokyo/Olympic (2007) was a tour several hours long around the city on a chartered Hato Bus that took in the sites of the 1964 Games, but finished rather unexpectedly at a rather desolate location in Tokyo Bay. Participants could look across the bay to see the artificial island of Yumenoshima (literally, “island of hope”), which was made from the city’s trash, and a projected venue for the abandoned 1940 Games. (See Peter Eckersall, “Memory and City: Port B and the Tokyo Olympics” in Performativity and Event in 1960s Japan: City, Body, Memory, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.) The bay area will play host to many of the venues for the 2020 Games at a time when the government, say its critics, is attempting to steer the nation back towards its prewar past.
The upcoming Olympics in Tokyo have already succeeded in coopting many artists for its pageantry. One of them is the singer Ringo Sheena, though she recently got flamed by liberals for her nationalist comments in a July interview with the Asahi Shimbun in which she declared that “the whole population is the organizing committee” for the Games. “In that sense, it’s very Japanese in its respect for harmony.” No individual opinions are anticipated.
More specifically, the direction and content of the actual 2020 Games’ cultural program is the source of much anxiety in the arts world in Japan, since so little is known. Certain commercially driven artists have been announced as part of the Cultural Olympiad, but firm details are still under wraps. So far what we have been shown has largely consisted of the “Tokyo Caravan” performances, overseen by Hideki Noda, beginning in 2015 and then continuing at Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo’s Roppongi Art Night in 2016. Ostensibly this would qualify the program as an “Olympiad”, even if the events are apparently mere previews without a genuine feeling of sequence or overall curation. Alongside the Roppongi Art Night performance, an event in autumn 2016 “fusing traditional arts and the latest technologies for which Japan is famous”, officially launched the Olympiad as an “ambitious programme of cultural activities”. The veracity of that boast remains to be seen.
It is certainly the case that various celebrities and artists will benefit financially from the Olympics and Cultural Olympic. One of the reasons that Expo ’70 in Osaka was also such an iconic event was the participation of major figures from the arts, though this was not without intense controversy at the time — so much so that an “anti-expo” was held. Now that there is an Anti-Olympics Art Council, perhaps we can expect such a counter-event, an Anti-Cultural Olympiad, in 2020.