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Fukushima groups discuss food promotion in Europe

BEWARE
With the EU-Japan free trade agreement recently just signed, expect Fukushima radiation contaminated produce to be sneakily dumped on the unaware European consumers.
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July 16, 2018
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Jiji Press) — Four European-based associations of people from Fukushima Prefecture held a meeting of their leaders in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on Sunday.
The participants from the associations in Germany, Britain, France and the Netherlands discussed how to strengthen their call for the European Union to lift its remaining import restrictions on foods from Fukushima and ways to promote sales of Fukushima products in Europe.
The meeting was the second of its kind. The first leaders’ meeting of the four associations was held in the Netherlands in June last year.
The EU introduced its import restrictions on foods from Fukushima and other Japanese prefectures following the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
In December 2017, the restrictions were lifted for part of the foods, including rice from Fukushima. But the EU still requires the submission of certification documents on radiation checks for imports of some items, such as soybeans and part of fishery products from the prefecture.
At Sunday’s meeting, the leaders of the Fukushima-related associations reconfirmed a plan to launch a similar association of people from the prefecture in Belgium to beef up lobbying activities for the EU headquarters in Brussels for the full removal of the import restrictions.
Takeshi Ishikawa, head of the association in the Netherlands, stressed his hope to set up the envisioned new association by the end of this year, while citing difficulties selecting a person who will play a leading role in the establishment of the new group.
The participants also discussed the idea of utilizing various events in Europe to help expand the marketing channels for products from Fukushima.
“We hope to publicize Fukushima and support its reconstruction,” said Yoshio Mitsuyama, head of the association in Britain.
Fukushima is one of the areas hit hardest by the March 2011 powerful earthquake and tsunami, which led to the severe nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

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July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima officials see silver lining in radioactive cloud as Beijing mulls lifting food ban

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Friday, 11 May, 2018
Prefecture troubled by years after nuclear disaster welcomes talks between Beijing and Tokyo that could lead to Chinese ending import restrictions
More than seven years after their prefecture became the scene of the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, trade officials in Fukushima have welcomed reports that Japan and China will discuss lifting Beijing’s ban on imports of food from the region.
 
Most of the discussions focused on developments on the Korean Peninsula, but progress was made on bilateral issues – including food exports from Fukushima and the introduction of a hotline to prevent accidental clashes in the air and at sea – enhancing the recent sense that relations between Beijing and Tokyo are improving after several tense years.
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The Fukushima officials told the South China Morning Post that they hope that translates into Beijing reopening the door to exports of agricultural and fisheries products.
“Fukushima prefecture has been strictly monitoring food products since the accident and I strongly wish for the Chinese government to quickly lift the import restrictions based on the scientific evidence,” said Takahiro Ichimura, director of the prefecture’s Trade Promotion Council.
“Fukushima prefecture is extremely large, covering an area equal to Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures as well as Tokyo combined,” he emphasised. “Regarding the nuclear accident, the evacuation area near the power plant is an extremely small part of the prefecture.”
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Fukushima is also an important rice growing region for Japan and is famous for its seafood. In 2010, the year before the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a series of towering tsunami, around 153 tonnes of food were exported.
Fifty-four countries and regions imposed temporary import bans immediately after the double disaster, when radiation levels increased to unsafe levels and the Japanese government swiftly stopped shipments of food until safety could be guaranteed.
Since then, 27 countries have lifted their restrictions and the prefecture shipped 210 tonnes of agricultural products abroad last year, mainly to Malaysia and Thailand, although there has been a reluctance among some consumers to buy the products because of the lingering fear of radiation poisoning.
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Overseas exports closer to home – those to South Korea, mainland China and Taiwan – have not picked up, however, due to the same concerns about radioactivity.
At the moment, China bans imports of food from 10 prefectures in northeast Japan and even requires food from prefectures not subject to its total ban to include a certificate indicating its origin. Some products from outside the 10 prefectures are also required to undergo radiation inspections.
As recently as March, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor turned down a request during a visit by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono to lift the city’s ban on imports of fresh produce and milk from Fukushima and four neighbouring prefectures.
Lam also insisted that targeted radiation testing on products from the rest of Japan would continue.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

China considers easier access for Japanese food

 
2018/5/10
Li, Abe agree on experts’ panel to discuss new regulations
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A farmer harvests rice in Tottori Prefecture, Japan in October 2017.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday signed an agreement to set up a joint body of experts to discuss the relaxation of an import ban on Japanese agricultural products, according to Japanese media reports.
 
The ban on products from Fukushima and nine other Japanese prefectures was imposed by China after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, reflecting fear of contamination.
 
An agreement was also reached on Wednesday to change the rules for rice exports from Japan to China.
 
Japan has been trying to increase its exports of agricultural products, aiming to reach 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) by 2019. China was the third-largest overseas market for Japanese produce last year at $900 million, according to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
 
Japan has been lobbying foreign countries to repeal their bans on the nation’s produce. A dispute on this issue with South Korea led to litigation at the WTO, which ruled in favor of Japan on February.
 
“Japan wants international recognition for agricultural products from Fukushima and its vicinity,” Zhang Jifeng, a research fellow with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with the Global Times.
 
“If the ban is lifted I would buy products from Japan,” said a shopper who frequents a Japanese-owned store in Beijing. “I expect that imported products will have passed strict safety requirements on both sides. The Japanese today are consuming their own products and they seem fine,” she said.
 
The agreement also opened the way for more Japanese rice sales to China. Since China first allowed imports of Japanese rice in 2007, all shipments of the grain had to be polished and fumigated at designated facilities in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of capital Tokyo.
 
The approved polishing facilities have been expanded from one to three, and fumigation facilities from five to seven, distributed across Japan. This change is expected to help sales of Japanese rice to China.
 
 “With more facilities for processing rice, Chinese consumers will have more options to buy rice from different Japanese regions,” an official with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, who only gave his name as Nozoe, said in an interview with Global Times.
 
“Having more facilities will also help speed up the process and lower costs, so we will able to provide Japanese rice at a more agreeable price for Chinese buyers,” he said.
 
Rice is the most consumed grain in both China and Japan, but annual per capita consumption in China, at 105 kilograms per year, is about double that of Japan with 54, according to Japanese government data.
 
Customs data show China imported 4 million tons of rice in 2017, mostly from Southeast Asia. And Japan is trying to expand its presence in China by appealing directly to consumers
 
 “We have now an antenna shop in Shanghai, where you can taste rice from different areas of Japan. E-commerce sites and Japanese restaurants in China also increasingly offer Japanese rice,” said Nozoe. But challenges remain.
 
An antenna shop refers to a physical store run by a government entity with the purpose of market research.
 
“Sales are constant but not very high,” a woman surnamed Zeng, owner of an online shop offering imported food, told the Global Times.
 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Hong Kong will not lift post-Fukushima ban on some Japanese food

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In meeting with Tokyo’s foreign minister, Chief Executive Carrie Lam says restrictions will stay in place for now, while government reaffirms commitment to enforcing sanctions against North Korea
 
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Sunday rejected for the time being Tokyo’s official request that the city lift restrictions on Japanese food imports brought in after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, citing public safety.
 
The chief executive also reaffirmed that the city had been strictly enforcing sanctions against North Korea, during her meeting at Government House with Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono, as he wrapped up his two-day visit to Hong Kong on Sunday.
 
Lam expressed her reluctance to lift the food ban, after Kono raised the possibility during the meeting.
 
In the wake of the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Hong Kong banned the import of fresh produce and milk from the prefecture and the four neighbouring prefectures, while conducting targeted radiation testing on fresh produce from the rest of Japan.
 
“She emphasised that it is incumbent upon the [government] to safeguard public health and hence effective measures must be in place to ensure food safety and to maintain public confidence,” a statement issued by Lam’s office read.
 
“Under this premise, the Food and Health Bureau will maintain communication with the Japanese authorities to review the latest situation and adopt appropriate measures in relation to the import ban.”
 
Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said her department had been in touch with Japan’s agriculture ministry over the ban and that “food safety is the primary concern”.
 
Kono was the first Japanese foreign minister to visit Hong Kong for bilateral matters since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, according to the Japanese foreign ministry. Earlier on Sunday, he visited the Aeon department store in Tai Koo, where he tasted food from Aizu in Fukushima, including rice, sake and ramen – exempted from the ban because they are not fresh produce.
 
“It is scientifically proven it is very safe and those people from Hong Kong who come to Japan [are] already eating spinach and cucumbers from Fukushima. And I think Hong Kong people who have been to Japanese restaurants have eaten Fukushima vegetables and fruit,” Kono told NowTV. 
“I would like to tell the Hong Kong people to come to Japan and enjoy the food in Japan.”
 
The city’s importers and legislators earlier urged Lam to be cautious about Tokyo’s request to lift restrictions on Japanese food imports, saying the government had to make sure all imports would not be contaminated with radiation.
 
Hong Kong is the largest export destination of Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products.
 
The two officials’ exchange came ahead of a North-South summit on the Korean peninsula next month, and US President Donald Trump’s possible meeting with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un before the end of May.
 
UN reports in recent weeks said Hong Kong companies were being used as fronts for North Korean businesses, to help it circumvent UN sanctions. Last month the US slapped sanctions on nine companies outside North Korea that were working on Pyongyang’s behalf. Two were based in mainland China and five in Hong Kong.
 
Lam took the opportunity to say her government was following the sanctions.
 
“Mrs Lam also reiterated to Mr Kono that Hong Kong has all along been strictly implementing the sanction measures decided by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea, and that Hong Kong will stay highly vigilant about activities and suspected cases that may violate the sanctions,” the statement read.
 
According to Japanese news agency Kyodo, both sides affirmed their collaboration in preventing North Korea from evading the sanctions. This was in response to incident in which a Hong Kong-registered tanker was found to have secretly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in international waters last year.
 

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Amount of food with radioactive cesium exceeding gov’t standards ‘dropping’, so they claim

So they say…..But why should we believe such study coming from the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team to be true? Especially when we know that their main policy has been a constant denial of the existing risks for the past 7 years…..
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March 22, 2018
The number of cases in which radioactive cesium exceeding Japanese government standards was found in food items dropped to less than 20 percent over a five-year period from fiscal 2012, a health ministry study has found.
 
The government standards for radioactive cesium came into effect in April 2012, which assumed that half of distributed food products contained the radioactive element generated by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram for common food items, 50 becquerels per kilogram for baby food and cow milk and 10 becquerels for drinking water.
 
Based on central government guidelines, 17 prefectural governments, counting Tokyo, check food products in which radioactive cesium is likely to be detected, including items that have been distributed, for the radioactive element. Other local governments have also been independently inspecting such food products to confirm their safety. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team analyzed data compiled by local governments, excluding that of beef, which has an extremely low detection rate for cesium, as well as products that go through bag-by-bag inspections such as rice from Fukushima Prefecture.
 
As a result, the number of cases that exceeded the threshold set under the Food Sanitation Act totaled 2,359 of 91,547 food products inspected in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013, it was 1,025 out of 90,824 products, 565 out of 79,067 in fiscal 2014, 291 out of 66,663 in fiscal 2015 and 460 out of 63,121 in fiscal 2016.
 
Broken down by categories, 641 cases of food items among agricultural produce were found to have exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium and 1,072 cases were detected among fishery products in fiscal 2012, but the figure had dropped to 71 and 11, respectively, in fiscal 2016. For fishery products, this is believed to be attributed to the reduction of cesium concentration in the seawater as the element had diffused in the ocean. It is also believed that the concentration in agricultural items had dropped as a result of decontamination work and other efforts.
 
At the same time, the number of cases exceeding national standards totaled 493 for game meat in fiscal 2012, and 378 in fiscal 2016. Researchers suspect that because wild animals continue to feed on wild mushrooms and plants with high concentrations of radioactive cesium growing in forests that have not been decontaminated, the figure does not drop among game meat products.
Almost all the foods that exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium had not been available to consumers as the contamination was detected during inspections before being shipped to markets. However, Akiko Hachisuka of the National Institute of Health Sciences Biochemistry Division who headed the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team says game meat and wild mushrooms need to be prioritized in inspections for the time being and also in the future.
 
Among wild mushrooms and other products that had been distributed to markets, 19 cases exceeding government standards were reported in fiscal 2012, seven in fiscal 2013, 11 in fiscal 2014, 12 in fiscal 2015 and 10 in fiscal 2016.
 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Contaminated Produce Exports Are Receiving Top-level Promotion

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, a media very close to the Japanese government, the produce exports from Fukushima Prefecture are making a strong recovery.  No wonder as they are promoted non-stop by the Japanese government pushing then down into the throat of its Asian neigbors….
Few days ago I even learned from an Australian friend that in his town Fukushima rice was being sold…..
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7 years after 3/11 / Produce exports from Fukushima Pref. making strong recovery
March 06, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — Exports of peaches and rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture have been brisk. Peach exports approached 50 tons in fiscal 2017, a 70 percent increase from before the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, while rice exports exceeded 100 tons and are expected to reach their pre-accident level.
For a while after the accident, Fukushima farmers saw their business grind to a halt under a trade embargo imposed by importing countries and regions. However, the Fukushima prefectural government and other entities have cultivated new markets, and their efforts have gradually borne fruit.
“I want to ship sweet peaches again this year to convey our region’s reconstruction to the world,” said farmer Susumu Suzuki, 67, who was busy pruning branches on his peach farm in Fukushima. The work involves keeping only a certain number of fruits on the tree so that nutrition will be concentrated in them before being harvested in summer.
While Suzuki’s farm is located about 65 kilometers away from the nuclear plant, radioactive substances were detected on the peaches right after the accident. Although the amount detected was within national limits, Suzuki repeatedly washed the substances from the trees using a high-pressure washer. Since the following year, voluntary safety checks done by the local Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) branch where his peaches are shipped have hardly detected any radioactive substances.
Top-level promotion
Exports of Fukushima-grown peaches in fiscal 2010, before the Great East Japan Earthquake, were 28.8 tons, most of which were shipped to Taiwan and Hong Kong. However, the regions restricted imports after the accident, and Fukushima farmers were unable to export peaches in fiscal 2011.
In addition to the local JA’s voluntary safety checks, the Fukushima prefectural government conducted another inspection based on national guidelines. The government also had overseas buyers observe cultivation and inspection methods while holding a number of food tasting events. As a result, the prefecture was able to ship peaches to Thailand in fiscal 2012. It was only one ton, but it was Fukushima’s first export since the accident.
The prefectural government also compiled a pamphlet written in languages such as English and Chinese to advertise the safety of its fruits, and then expanded sales into Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Peach exports in fiscal 2016 exceeded the volume shipped before the accident, and fiscal 2017 exports are expected to reach 48 tons.
As for rice, the prefecture was unable to find an export destination in fiscal 2012 and 2013. But in fiscal 2014, the prefecture began shipping to Singapore, starting with 0.3 tons. It also succeeded in finding a new channel for sales in Britain and achieved a total export volume of 22.3 tons in fiscal 2016.
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori visited Malaysia to conduct top-level promotion, and rice exports to that country alone in fiscal 2017 are expected to reach 100 tons. Total exports are likely to exceed the 108 tons shipped in fiscal 2010.
Some still suffering
Even so, a negative image of farm produce grown in Fukushima Prefecture still exists abroad. Taiwan and Hong Kong have continued their embargo on peaches grown in the prefecture. Before the accident, the Fukushima prefectural government shipped fruit to those regions as a luxury product aimed at wealthier consumers. It has now lowered the price so that the middle class in other countries can afford its fruit. To reduce the price, cost-saving measures have been undertaken, including halting shipments by air.
The prefecture is struggling to boost rice exports to former customer Hong Kong. Though Hong Kong has not set an embargo on Fukushima rice, the prefectural government has yet to resume rice exports there because consumer unease has been deeply rooted.
“Rice grown in other prefectures has taken the place of our rice at supermarkets there. We need to keep advertising the safety of produce grown in our prefecture,” a Fukushima prefectural official said.

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima flounder exported for first time since nuclear disaster

March 1, 2018
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A worker hefts a flounder into a box for export to Thailand in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 28, 2018.
 
SOMA, Fukushima — Known as the pride of the Joban region along the Pacific coast, flounder caught off Fukushima Prefecture were exported on Feb. 28 for the first time since the nuclear disaster seven years ago.
The shipment will make its way to Bangkok, where it will supply Japanese restaurants in the Thai capital with close to 1 ton of flounder by the end of March. On Feb. 28, the roughly 100 kilograms of ocean-caught fish were stacked into ice-filled cases at the market in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture. Each flounder weighed between 1.5 to 2 kilograms, and Soma Futaba fisheries cooperative head Kanji Tachiya, 66, said, “While the number of fish caught along the coast is still few, the fact that Fukushima fish will be tasted abroad motivates us.”
The flounder along Fukushima’s coastline have thick white flesh and excellent flavor, even fetching high prices at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji wholesale market. Restrictions on their export were lifted in 2016, and while business will continue on a trial basis, the flounder still cost 10 to 20 percent less than those caught in other regions.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government negotiated with a trading company in Thailand that did not impose import restrictions on marine products from the region following the nuclear disaster. Levels of radioactive cesium in all of the roughly 25,000 types of marine products caught off the Fukushima coast surveyed by the prefecture have fallen below the domestic standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram since April 2015, and the aim is to increase the amount, type and destinations for exported fish in the future.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Seoul defies WTO ruling, vows to keep ban on Japan’s Fukushima seafood

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South Korea vows to maintain its restrictions on Japanese seafood imports and appeal the WTO’s ruling against additional radiation tests and bans on fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In 2015, Tokyo filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging South Korea’s import bans that were introduced on certain fish caught in Japanese waters over fears of radiation following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant in March 2011. In its official complaint, Japan also challenged additional testing and certification requirements placed by Seoul on Japanese fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima.
On Thursday, the WTO ruled in Japan’s favor, claiming that while South Korean practices were initially justified, they now violate the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement. “By maintaining the product-specific and blanket import bans on the 28 fishery products from the 8 prefectures and the 2011 and 2013 additional testing requirements on Japanese products, Korea acted inconsistently with Article 2.3, first sentence of the SPS Agreement and, as a consequence with Article 2.3, second sentence,” the ruling said.
South Korea on Friday refused to bow to the WTO ruling due to public health and safety concerns, announcing that it will challenge the ruling while maintaining the current level of restrictions.
“The Korean government will appeal to safeguard public health and safety,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release. “Regardless of the decision, the current import ban will be put in place until the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure ends.”
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, called Seoul’s disobedience regrettable. “Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their measures,” he said at a news conference.
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Twenty-four nations across the globe still have some import limitations on Japanese seafood products. Originally, 46 nations adopted protective measures but over time have eased their restriction practices to allow Japanese imports. Despite the ban on Fukushima products, South Korea has imported 708,566 tons of seafood from Japan since March 2011, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. South Korean authorities returned only around 0.03 percent of those imports, asking for additional radiation level tests.

 

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan immorality in pushing the export of its contaminated foods to other countries

From The Yomiuri Shimbun, a propaganda mouthpiece close to the Japanese government.

 

Give new impetus to countries to lift import bans on Japanese seafood

An unfair import ban imposed in reaction to the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture is unacceptable. Japan must make use of this clear judgment for countries to accelerate lifting such bans.

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel ruled that South Korea’s ban on fishery products imported from Japan amounts to “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” and violates WTO rules.

Citing the nuclear accident as a reason, South Korea has imposed a blanket import ban on fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, since September 2013. For some of the import items, the ban has a serious impact on the fishery industries in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident.

Japan filed complaints with the WTO in 2015, claiming Seoul’s ban was “not based on scientific grounds and hampered free trade.” It calls for the ban to be lifted on 28 kinds of fishery products, such as bonito and saury.

The WTO has sided with Japan because it did not get a satisfactory explanation from South Korea about why Seoul focused solely on fishery products imported from Japan.

Might Seoul have aimed to exclude Japanese fishery products that compete with those of South Korea? If so, such an attitude would run counter to the WTO’s principle of free trade and losing the case would be inevitable.

The South Korean government announced that it will appeal to a higher WTO panel, equivalent to a higher court. A situation should be avoided in which handing down the final decision is unnecessarily postponed.

Moves by S. Korea, China vital

It is reasonable that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito said, “[We] call for South Korea to sincerely and swiftly correct the violation of the [WTO] agreement.”

Japan exports products after subjecting them to an even stricter examination than is required by international standards on the influence of radioactive substances on foods.

The number of countries and regions that imposed import bans on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident was initially 54, but it declined by half to 27 as time went by.

In addition to South Korea, many of Japan’s main trading partners, including China, the United States and the European Union, still impose import restrictions on Japanese foods. Among other steps, they continue to ban importing some items or call for the presentation of certificates of inspection of Japanese foods.

In particular, China has taken the same level of strict restrictive measures as South Korea, and banned importing all foods from Tokyo and nine other prefectures.

The moves of China and South Korea seem to strongly influence other Asian countries and others that are still taking some kind of regulatory measures against Japanese foods.

In parallel with its efforts regarding South Korea, the Japanese government needs to make more efforts toward negotiations with China for lifting its import ban.

Although the government has set the goal of exporting ¥1 trillion worth of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and other foods in 2019, such exports remain sluggish.

It has been pointed out that meat and fruit imported from Japan, which have become luxury brands, are sought after and praised by wealthy people abroad, yet there are few products for the most populous middle-income bracket of other countries.

There is no doubt that lifting the import bans of each country would also contribute to the improvement of the image of Japanese products overall.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004265927

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea to fight WTO ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

My respect to South Korean government which stands to protect the health of their citizens. Unlike many others.
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In this Sept. 6, 2013, file photo, a worker using a Geiger counter checks for possible radioactive contamination at Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul, South Korea.
South Korea said Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against Seoul’s import bans on Japanese fishery products imposed in the wake of Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Friday it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against bans on imports of Japanese fishery products after the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
The government said in a statement that the appeal was meant to protect public health and safety. It said it will maintain its existing regulations on imports of Japanese seafood.
The Geneva-based WTO accepted Japan’s complaint, saying South Korea’s policies violated the trade body’s rules, were discriminatory and served as a trade barrier.
In 2013, South Korea banned imports of all fishery products from eight Japanese provinces near Fukushima after Tokyo Electric Power reported leaks of radiation-contaminated water. That tightened restrictions imposed after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. It also required inspection certificates for food products from Japan if small amounts of radioactive cesium or iodine were detected.
Japan filed a complaint against the move in 2015.
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, said the appeal was regrettable. He urged South Korea to abide by the decision and scrap its current practices.
“Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their (import ban) measures,” he said at a news conference.
South Korea is one of a handful of countries that have banned foods from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures.
China also bans seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and nine other prefectures, including Tokyo. It requires certificate on foods from the rest of Japan. The two governments recently set up a committee to discuss possibly easing the ban.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and several other countries such as Singapore, Russia and the Philippines, also ban seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures. However they allow imports from elsewhere in Japan if they have a required certificate of safety. Taiwan has agreed to start easing restrictions later this year.
The U.S. does not impose a blanket ban on Fukushima, but instead restricts specific agricultural products from specific regions.
Since the accident, 26 countries have lifted bans on imports related to the Fukushima disaster.

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan wins WTO dispute over Fukushima-related food

Proving that  World Trade Organization focuses on trade and not on people health.
TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization on Thursday largely upheld a Japanese complaint against South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements imposed on Japanese seafood because of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In a ruling that can be appealed by either side, a WTO dispute panel said that South Korea’s measures were initially justified but that keeping them in place violated the WTO’s sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) agreement.
“Japan welcomes the panel’s decision and hopes that South Korea will sincerely and swiftly take corrective action,” Japan’s Fisheries Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Japan, which has been in talks with other countries such as China and Taiwan that also have trade restrictions in place, plans to step up talks with them in light of the WTO ruling, a government official said.
Many countries have removed or relaxed restrictions on produce from Japan in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, which led to meltdowns at a nuclear plant and forced Japan to suspend some agricultural and fisheries exports.
Some countries have maintained bans on imports, but South Korea is the only one that Japan has taken to the WTO.
South Korea widened its initial ban on Japanese fishery imports in 2013 to cover all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima.
Japan launched its trade complaint at the WTO in 2015, arguing that radioactive levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.
South Korea imported 10.9 billion yen ($102 million) worth of Japanese seafood in the year to August 2013 before it broadened its restrictions. Those imports then fell to 8.4 billion yen the following year, according to the Japanese government.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days, otherwise South Korea will be expected to bring its treatment of Japanese seafood into line with the WTO rules.
Relations between Japan and South Korea, often testy, have soured in recent years.

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima fruit exports to Southeast Asia peachy as contamination fears dissipate

Feb 18, 2018
Fukushima Prefecture’s Governor campaigning abroad to push sales of Fukushima’s produce despite the health risks
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Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori (right) promotes Fukushima-made peaches with officials from local agricultural cooperatives at a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur in August. | FUKUSHIMA MINPO
Among peaches Japan exported to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia last year, those produced in Fukushima Prefecture led the way, retaining their No. 1 status for two years in a row.
According to the prefectural government, 48 tons of Fukushima peaches were shipped to the three countries in 2017, up 57 percent from the previous year, thanks to efforts by local producers and distributors to acquire new customers.
With bans from the Fukushima nuclear disaster still in place around Asia, however, Fukushima officials said they will continue calling on the central government to negotiate with biggest customers of Japanese peaches, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to encourage them to lift bans on produce from the prefecture.
According to data compiled by the prefectural government based on Finance Ministry trade statistics and transaction data from local farm co-ops, Thailand topped the list of Fukushima peaches importers for two years in a row, with shipments in 2017 totaling 31.1 tons, or 1.5 times higher than the previous year. Fukushima peaches accounted for 94.8 percent of its peach imports from Japan.
Exports to Malaysia reached 15 tons, making up 72.5 percent of its Japanese peach imports, while exports to Indonesia totaled 1.5 tons, or 51.7 percent of its Japanese peach imports. Both amounts more than doubled from a year ago.
In Thailand, the number of stores selling Fukushima peaches rose to 70 from roughly 50, mainly in Bangkok, after the prefectural government entrusted a local importer to take steps to bolster sales, such as by dispatching staff to the stores when the peaches are in season.
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori visited Malaysia in August to promote the fruit, resulting in a deal to export 15 tons to the nation last year.
Produce other than peaches has been making headway in Southeast Asia as well, especially in nations with high economic development and relatively fewer negative rumors about Fukushima.
Fukushima exported 77 tons of rice to Malaysia in 2017, up from none a year before, and 16.3 tons of persimmons to Thailand.
To accelerate exports of local produce, the prefectural government will put together a new strategy before the end of March. It plans to analyze different preferences and consumers’ purchasing power by nation and region and set target markets for each item.
It will then draw up measures to create production systems that meet the needs of those markets and find ways to promote the products.
“The efforts of people involved, including producers, farm co-ops and importers, have produced good results,” an official with Fukushima’s division for promoting local produce said. “We will continue working on developing effective sales channels to win the support of overseas consumers.”
This section features topics and issues from Fukushima covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. It was previously called Fukushima File. The original article was published on Feb. 2.

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Experts doubt lifting of Japan food ban

Concerns linger about imports from nuclear radiation area
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Quarantine officers inspect king crabs imported from Japan in Taicang, East China’s Jiangsu Province in December 2016.
The curbs on imports of Japanese food produced in areas hit by the country’s nuclear crisis will not be easily relaxed or lifted, and Chinese consumers won’t accept such imports given food safety concerns, experts said.
 
The comments came after reports in the Japanese media said that China will probably relax import restrictions on Japanese food that were put in place after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, signaling an improvement in relations between the two countries.
 
A report by Kyodo News Agency on January 1 said that China has proposed talks with Japan on whether to ease or lift an import ban on food from 10 prefectures imposed after the meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, citing related diplomatic sources.
 
China has offered to set up a working group to discuss the matter in response to a request by a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who visited Beijing and held talks with the Chinese side about relaxing import restrictions on December 29, 2017, said the Kyodo report.
 
It also noted that Zhi Shuping, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China’s quality watchdog, made the proposal when he met with Nikai that day.
 
The AQSIQ banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima in 2011, amid fears of radiation contamination following the disaster.
 
The quality watchdog did not reply to a request for comment from the Global Times as of press time. Neither has any official statement from the Japanese side been released.
 
The Kyodo report said the talks were “a sign that the governments of the two countries are looking for ways to mend ties as they mark [in 2018] the 40th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of peace and friendship between Japan and China.”
 
But this view was seen as overly optimistic by some Chinese experts.
 
Chen Zilei, deputy director of the National Association for the Japanese Economy, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the beginning of such talks does not mean an easing or lifting of the ban is imminent.
 
“The beginning of negotiations might signal an improvement in bilateral relations, but we have our own supervision standards and requirements for imported goods, which will not be changed,” Chen said.
 
Besides, Japan needs to publicize the accident-related information in a more open and transparent way in order to address the concerns, Chen said, adding that this would be a prerequisite for carrying out the negotiations.
 
“It is also Japan’s obligation to the international community,” he noted.
 
Many countries and regions, including China, the US, South Korea, Singapore and the EU, have curbed imports of food products from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant over fears of potential contamination, although some have recently eased their restrictions.
 
The EU has decided to ease import restrictions on Japan’s farm and marine products, including rice, the Japan Times reported in November.
 
Consumers’ concern
 
Ruan Guangfeng, director of the science and technology department at the China Food Information Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the radiation in the areas near Fukushima has returned to the level before the disaster happened, according to the related data.
 
“Even if the import ban is lifted, consumers do not need to worry too much, as the import checks will only be stricter,” Ruan noted.
 
However, not all consumers will draw confidence from the scientific conclusion, according to Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst.
 
“In terms of the industrial side, there is no big problem based on the efforts of the Japanese government as well as the long time it has taken to restore the situation. However, it is the consumer end, which takes up 80 percent of the importance in the food industry, that plays the key role,” Zhu told the Global Times on Wednesday.
 
“Most consumers have a psychological barrier against accepting food from the nuclear radiation areas,” Zhu said, noting that Japanese seafood has not been very popular in the Chinese market over the past two years, partly due to increasing competition from products from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Canada.
 
“Friends around me have declined to eat any Japanese seafood since the accident took place since you cannot tell whether it is from the radiation-stricken area or not,” he said.
 

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Intensifying the Fukushima denial campaign

Not contented with its media strong censorship and its 2013 passed State Secrecy Law discouraging any possible whistleblower inside Japan , Japan’s government is now directing its Fukushima denial propaganda toward the international community, in preparation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics venue and its numerous visitors to come, and also to encourage its Asian neighbor countries to lift their import restrictions, their radiation contamination tests, for them to buy anew Eastern Japan’s agricultural and marine products.

Its Ministry of Environment has added a new segment to its website on radioactive decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture to promote the ‘understanding of progress’ in Fukushima’s environmental recovery among people residing outside Japan.

The irony is that they have the balls to call one of their programs, the Fukushima Diairies. I think many of you remember that the Fukushima Diary Blog was one of the very few blogs informing us about the Fukushima catastrophe from 2011 to 2016. Especially during the first year, 2011, the blogger, Iori Mochizuki, was the only one bringing out Fukushima news from inside Japan. http://fukushima-diary.com/

 

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New Website Segment on Fukushima Environmental Remediation Updates Content, Offers Overseas TV Shows Produced with MOEJ Cooperation
TOKYO, Dec. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) has added a new segment to its website on radioactive decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture, introducing broadcast programs and events produced with the MOEJ’s cooperation. The main purpose of the new website segment is to promote the understanding of progress in Fukushima’s environmental recovery among people residing outside Japan.
The MOEJ cooperates with the production of select broadcast programs aired overseas to help widely communicate correct information on Fukushima and eliminate misconceptions about the area. The ministry has added this new website segment to allow users to view such programs, free of charge.
Specifically, the MOEJ has so far cooperated with the production of certain programs aired mostly in Southeast Asia on Discovery Channel and CNBC Asia Channel Japan.
To access the new website segment, follow one of the two links below:
– English site
– YouTube (Discovery: English)
(Outlines of the programs)
– Discovery Channel
— Program title: Fukushima Diaries
— Program outline: The 30-minute show was produced by Discovery Channel, the world’s leading documentary channel, with the MOE’s cooperation, and was broadcast throughout the Southeast Asian region and Japan, together containing some 27 million viewing households.
In the show, three bloggers from overseas each visit a different destination within Fukushima Prefecture following their respective interests. They report discoveries and moving experiences they have had respectively in Fukushima. Their themes are varied, including (1) comprehensive conditions of environmental remediation, (2) tourism and food, and (3) technological innovation and development.
– CNBC ASIA (Channel Japan)
— Program outline: The documentary series of four 15-minute episodes on diverse topics related to Fukushima’s environmental recovery was developed and produced by TV-U Fukushima (TUF). The series features key persons who have led Fukushima’s environmental recovery and reconstruction moves in their own respective fields. Watching the stories of their professional and personal commitments, viewers will see great progress in those moves, as well as appreciating the prefecture’s appeals as seen from the respective key characters’ expert viewpoints.
— 3rd & 4th episodes and Highlights version will be broadcast sequentially.
Contents
– Episode 1: How Did Foreign Students Feel About Fukushima?
The storyteller featured in this episode is William McMichael, Assistant Professor, Fukushima University International Center. McMichael covered up close the 21 students from abroad attending the 12-day Fukushima Ambassadors Program held in August 2017 to tell the story of changes in their thoughts and feelings during their stay.
– Episode 2: Meeting Challenge of Revitalizing Fukushima by Younger Generation
Riken Komatsu and Hiroshi Motoki, both leading local efforts to revitalize Iwaki City, Fukushima, are the two storytellers of this episode. Komatsu talks about UDOC, an alternative multipurpose space he opened in May 2011, and the Sea Lab where fish caught close to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are tested for radioactive concentration. Meanwhile, Motoki discusses the Tomato Theme Park — Wonder Farm, a unique facility he opened in 2016 by combining agriculture and tourism. As they talk, both express positive thoughts about Fukushima’s future.
– Episode 3: Creating a New Fukushima by Robotics
Characters featured in this episode are Koki Watanabe and Yuna Yasura, both engaged in robotics. Watanabe is developing underwater robots capable of moving freely deep in the ocean and exploring narrow passages, while Yasura wearable robots (muscle tools) to assist people’s motion function, both at their local companies in the Hamadori district, Fukushima. The episode focuses on their dedicated professional efforts, as well as their dreams and shared belief that for Fukushima’s true reconstruction, vibrant local industries are necessary to support the local economy.
– Episode 4: Record of Research as a Physicist in Fukushima for 6 Years – Ryugo
Hayano –
Ryugo Hayano, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, has been involved energetically with Fukushima as a “nuclear physicist who acts” since the calamitous disaster. This episode presents a wide range of Dr. Hayano’s achievements related to recovery from the disaster, including the tweets he began as an expert immediately after the disaster hit, his tests of the Fukushima people’s exposure to radiation and related research, his development of a whole-body radiation counter for children, his joint research with local high-school students and his vigorous communication of related information for audiences both within Japan and without.
SOURCE Ministry of the Environment, Japan

 

 

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment