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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.
 
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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

The Japanese Government Is Lying to the International Community: the Radiological Situation in and around Fukushima is NOT Safe

A report from NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service, in USA)
The Japanese government has created foreign language websites which provide the information about radiology in general and the radiological situation in Fukushima. Journalists around the world, our friends and acquaintances living abroad are continually asking us whether the information that these Japanese central and local government websites present to the international community is correct or not. The following is our answer.
 
Appeal from a Japanese Anti-nuclear Activist Etsuji Watanabe
Nov.29 2017 Revised (Oct.12 2017)
Etsuji Watanabe: Member of the Japanese anti-radiation citizen-scientist group ACSIR (Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures)
Special thanks to Mrs Yuko Kato, Mr Ruiwen Song, Ms Nozomi Ishizu, Mrs Kurly Burch, Ms Jennifer Alpern, and Mark Bennett Yuko Kato: Evacuee from Fukushima, member of the Kansai plaintiff group for compensation against TEPCO and government Ruiwen Song: Taiwanese freelance journalist.
The Japanese government has created foreign language websites which provide the information about radiology in general and the radiological situation in Fukushima. Journalists around the world, our friends and acquaintances living abroad are continually asking us whether the information that these Japanese central and local government websites present to the international community is correct or not. The following is our answer.
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[Question 1]
The stories uploaded on these websites give people the impression that worrying about radiation is unnecessary. As for this impression, has Fukushima now really become a safe place to live or visit?
[Answer]
First of all, Japanese anti-nuclear activists and evacuees from contaminated areas in Fukushima and Kanto, have been warning people all over the world NEVER to trust what the Japanese government is saying about both radiology in general and the specific radiological health effects caused by the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster (hereafter Fukushima accident) following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11th, 2011.
Prime-minister Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government as a whole including Fukushima prefectural government have repeatedly declared that “with regard to health-related problems (of the Fukushima accident), I (Abe) will state in the most emphatic and unequivocal terms that there have been no problems until now, nor are there any at present, nor will there be in the future.” (Abe’s statement at a news conference). See the Japanese government website here.
This claim is completely fabricated and false. In making these claims, the Japanese government is blatantly ignoring the vast number of studies in radiological sciences and epidemiology that have been accumulating historically. By engaging in this behavior, the Japanese government has been systematically deceiving the public, both nationally and internationally.
Just think of the amount of radioactivity released during the Fukushima accident. As you know, one of the standards used to assess the extent of radioactive releases and longtime human health effects is the levels of cesium 137 (Cs137) released into the environment. Based on the Japanese government data (which is an underestimate), the Fukushima accident released 168 times the Cs137 discharged by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This amount is almost the equivalent to the total atmospheric nuclear explosions conducted by the United States on the Nevada test ground. The Nevada desert is not designated as a residential area, but the Japanese government has recommended evacuated residents return to live in areas with radiation levels of up to 20 mSv/year. By removing economic support for evacuees, the Japanese government has forced many people who had evacuated from these areas to return.
We estimate that in the Fukushima accident approximately 400-600 times the Cs137 were released into the atmosphere by the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. Roughly 20% of the Cs137, or 80-120 Hiroshima-equivalents, were deposited on Japan. Of this, the decontamination efforts have only been able to retrieve five Hiroshima-equivalents. The waste from decontamination efforts is typically stored all over Fukushima mostly in mountainous heaps of large plastic bags. This means that 75-115 Hiroshima-equivalents of Cs137 still remain in Fukushima, surrounding prefectures, and all over Japan.
In addition, the Japanese government is now planning to reuse the retrieved contaminated soil under 8000Bq/kg in public works projects all over Japan. This self-destructive program has now been partially started without any announcements as to where the contaminated soil are and will be reused, under the pretext of “avoiding damage caused by harmful rumors”. This project is tantamount to scattering lethal fallout of Cs137 equivalent to about 5 times that of Hiroshima bomb all over Japan. The Japanese government is literally behaving like a nuclear terrorist.
Do you really imagine that Fukushima prefecture and surrounding areas, contaminated as they are to levels similar to the Nevada test site, is really a safe place for people to permanently live, or for foreign tourists to visit and go sightseeing?
Regrettably, we must conclude that it is not, for either residents or tourists the situation in Fukushima is not safe.
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[Question 2]
These websites also point out that the international annual dose limit for the public is at 1mSv, but this level is easily exceeded by only one CT-scan, insinuating that this 1mSv standard is set too low and thus not a useful indicator.
[Answer]
CT-Scans are often cited as if they had no radiation risks, But this is not true. A recent study clearly shows that every CT-scan (about 4.5mSv irradiation) increases the risk of cancers in children by 24%. See the website here.
In Fukushima the allowable level of radiation per year for residents is now 20mSv. Can you imagine having 4-5 CT-scans every year?
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[Question 3]
One of the websites states: “In Fukushima, the indoor radiation doses are now so reduced that no radioactive cesium can be found in the air. Therefore, no radioactive particles can invade the human body during breathing.” What do you think of this statement?
[Answer]
The Japanese government also ignores the long-term peril caused by “hot particles” ――micron-and- nano-sized radioactive particulates――which, if inhaled or absorbed into the human body, may lead to many kinds of cancers and other diseases including cardiac failure. We should consider internal irradiation to the cells near the radiation sources to be 500 times more dangerous than external irradiation because particles inside the body radiates very near or even inside cells, causing intensive damage to DNAs and other cell organs such as mitochondria.
 
[Question 4]
These websites explain that there exists not only artificial but also natural radioactivity, thus people are living in an environment surrounded by radiation all the time in everyday life.
[Answer]
One of the main tactics that the Japanese government often uses to propagate the “safety of low level irradiation” is to compare artificial radioactivity with natural radioactivity. But this logic is a methodological sleight of hand. It is crystal-clear that even exposure to natural radioactivity has its own health risks. Cancers sickened and killed people long before artificial radioactivity was used. For example, Seishu Hanaoka, one of the founders of Japan’s medicine, carried out 152 breast cancer surgeries from 1804 to 1836.
Both kinds of radioactivity have their own health risks. Risks caused by artificial radioactivity should not be compared but be added to the natural radioactivity risks as they both lead to the accumulation of exposure.
For example, potassium 40 (K40) is a typical natural radioactive nuclide. According to  the Japanese government, the average internal exposure dose for adults from K40 is about 4,000Bq/year or 0.17mSv/year. See the website here (in Japanese).
The ICRP risk model (2007) allows us to estimate the approximate risk posed by K40. The calculation shows that K40 is responsible for approximately 4,000 cancer cases and 1,000 deaths every year. If the same amount of radiation was added to that of K40 in the human body by artificial sources, the cancers and mortalities would be doubled to 8,000 and 2,000 a year, respectively. Based on the ECRR (2010) model, which criticizes the ICRP risk model as a severe underestimate, these figures should be multiplied by 40, reaching 320,000 and 80,000, respectively.
The extract you cite from the Fukushima government website is completely fake: “In Fukushima, the indoor radiation doses are now so reduced that no radioactive cesium can be found in the air. Therefore, no radioactive particles can invade the human body during respiration”. Reports from civic radiation measurement stations refute this claim. For example, dust collecting paper packs of vacuum cleaners used in Iwaki City, Fukushima prefecture, are radiologically measured and 4,800-53,900Bq/kg radioactive cesium was detected in Oct-Dec 2015. See the website here (in Japanese).
 
[Question 5]
One of the websites says that the Fukushima prefecture has conducted whole-body counter screenings of the 170,000 local population so far but cesium was rarely detected.” Does this mean that we can safely consume food from Fukushima, and Fukushima residents are no longer being exposed internally to radiation?
[Answer]
This is a typical example of demagogy by the Japanese government: vague expressions lacking specific data, using the words “safe and secure” without clear explanation. In reality, the government has not publicized any data indicating serious irradiation of the population. For example, you mentioned the Fukushima prefectural government website saying that whole-body counter screenings of 170,000 members of the local population have found radioactive Cs only in very few cases. However, the fact that no specific number is given makes the statement suspicious.
These statistics, more than likely, exclude many firefighters or other municipal employees who, at the time of accident, helped local residents evacuate from a lot of contaminated areas surrounding the defunct Fukushima plant. These people were subjected to serious radiation doses.
Civic groups’ efforts for the disclosure of information has recently prompted city officials near the defunct plant to disclose the fact that it conducted whole-body counter check-ups on about 180 firefighters, nurses and municipal employees. According to Koichi Ohyama, a member of the municipal assembly of Minami Soma, the screening conducted in July, 2011, showed almost all of these people tested positive in Cs. The maximum Cs137 dose among the firefighters was as high as 140,000 Bq. This data reveals a part of the reality of irradiation but it is only a tiny part.
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[Question 6]
The government websites suggest that no health effects from irradiation have been reported in Fukushima. Is this true? Or have any symptoms appeared that indicate an increase in radiation-induced diseases in Fukushima?
[Answer]
One example is the outbreak of child thyroid cancer, but the Japanese government has been denying the relationship with irradiation from radioactive iodine released from the Fukushima disaster.
Japan’s population statistics reflect the health effects from the Fukushima disaster radioactivity. The following data clearly show that diseases increasing in Fukushima are highly likely to have been radiation-induced.
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[Question 7]
The Fukushima prefecture website says, “After the Fukushima accident, the Japanese government has introduced the provisional standards for radioactive iodine and cesium. The Fukushima prefectural government subsequently strictly regulated distribution and consumption of food with levels of radioactivity exceeding the provisional standards. Now we have had this new much stricter standard. The distribution and consumption  of food exceeding this new standard has been continuously regulated; therefore any food on the market is safe to consume.” Is it true?
[Answer]
As for food contamination, the Japanese government has also tried to cover up the real picture. First, the current government standard for radioactivity in food, 100Bq/kg, is dangerously high for human health, especially for fetuses, infants, children and pregnant women. Even six and a half years after the accident, the Agriculture Ministry of Japan as well as many civic radioactivity measurement stations all over the country have reported many food contamination cases, although the frequency is evidently reduced. See the website here.
The Japanese government has underestimated the danger presented by internal irradiation. But, we must consider two important factors. (1) The wide range of difference in personal radio-sensitivity. According to Professor Tadashi Hongyo (Osaka University Medical Faculty), the maximum difference is as wide as 100 times in terms of biological half-life of Cs137. (2) Recent studies denying that the so-called biological half-life decrease curve actually exists. According to the new model, daily food contamination can cause concentrations to accumulate as time passes. Even a daily 1Bq internal radiation dose from food cannot be safe for human health (details below).
Our recommendation is to be cautious of food or produce from Fukushima and the surrounding areas, and, even if contamination levels are said to have now generally decreased, to avoid jumping to the conclusion that all the food is fit to eat.
 
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[Question 8]
We would like to ask about the situations in prefectures surrounding Fukushima. A television program once reported, “As for the safety of Tochigi and Gunma prefectures, few people are raising concern about health effects of radiation.” Is it true that the prefectures somewhat distant from the Fukushima Daiichi plant are now safe with no human risk?
[Answer]
Regarding the radioactive contamination in prefectures surrounding Fukushima, you can refer to the following website.
This article examines the contamination in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but conditions are the same or more serious in Tochigi or other prefectures north of Tokyo, nearer to the defunct Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Another example is the statistics of stillbirth and neonatal mortality in Fukushima and the surrounding five prefectures (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaragi, Miyagi, Iwate) shown here.
Perinatal mortality in not only Fukushima prefecture but also neighboring prefectures rose 15.6% just 10 months after the accidents. This clearly indicates the existence of some kind of human health damage from radiation.
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[Question 9]
We would like to ask about the decontamination efforts by famers living in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures. Should we think highly of the farmers measuring the amount of radiation deposited on the surface of soil to create radiation maps for farms, or washing the radiation from the surface of every single tree off the radiation with high-pressure washers? The farmers said that while these methods have been shown to be radiologically effective, their produce did not sell well, because consumers are still feeling anxious about health risks. Does the problem of radioactive food contamination in Japan just end up in whether each consumer personally believes it safe or not?
[Answer]
We must raise a question that, despite the government’s decontamination efforts, a huge amount of radioactive materials deposited in mountainous areas remain untouched. Now they are re-dispersing and re-depositing over wide areas of Fukushima and surrounding prefectures via winds, cars, trains, river water, pollen, spores, emissions from incinerators, in the form of radioactive dusts and particulates, among many others. For an example, see the following website.
So I regret to say that, although these farmers’ endeavors you mentioned are very precious and respectable, they are not sufficient to completely eliminate the risk of radiation exposure from food. The problem exists objectively in the nuclear materials deposited on and in soil, algae, plants, houses, buildings, forests, animal and human bodies, not subjectively in the consumers’ sentiment or psychology.
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[Question 10]
Japanese experts have recently pitched a cultivation method that can remove cesium by intensive use of potassium fertilizer. Is this method effective at all? Do you have any doubt about their claims?
[Answer]
They seem to be among those experts who have been criticizing the general public’s tendency to demand “zero irradiation risk” as an obstacle to Fukushima reconstruction.
As you know, cesium (Cs) has chemically similar characteristics to potassium (K). So it is true that higher levels of application of potassium fertilizer lowers the plant’s absorption, and therefore concentration, of radioactive Cs, decreasing Cs137/134 concentrations in produce, often to below the government standard of 100Bq/kg. But the following problems remain: (1) This procedure can prevent Cs transfer from the soil to produce only partly, not completely; (2) This process raises the potassium concentration in the produce and therefore heightens the burdens on certain human organs such as kidneys, the heart and the nervous system, causing new health risks; (3) Heightened concentration of potassium also leads to the heightened concentration of radioactive K40, so the reduced risk of radioactive Cs lead to an increased risk of internal irradiation by K40.
 
[Question 11]
Even if cesium concentration was reduced by applying more potassium fertilizer than usual, strontium contamination would remain. In Japanese government’s international press campaign as to the Fukushima accident, almost nothing has been said about strontium. If you have any information on strontium contamination, let us know.
[Answer]
We regret that the information about strontium that you are asking for is very limited and searching for it is also a challenge for us. The Japanese government and research institutes under the government have reported very limited data regarding strontium contamination. But it is important that the Japanese government admits the fact of strontium contamination within 80km from the defunct Fukushima plant. See the website here.
Did you know that the US Department of Energy data on the strontium contamination of soil in Japan and its visualization (in Japanese)  can be seen on the websites here?
 
[Question 12]
Some Japanese experts say, “the Japanese government has declared that no health effects from irradiation below 100mSv (or 100mSv/year) have been confirmed.” Some farmers have established a private food standard of 20Bq/kg, much lower than the Japanese government standard of 100Bq/kg. Do you think that doses under 100mSv or under 20Bq/kg are safe and secure?
[Answer]
As you mentioned, the Japanese government claims that no scientific studies verify that irradiation of 100mSv or less poses a threat to human health, suggesting that irradiation under 100mSv has no risk. This, however, is false. The government is fabricating this information. In fact, very many scientific studies have already confirmed and proven health effects induced by irradiation under 100mSv. For example, see the websites below.
 
The Japanese government is using the term “100mSv” in a deliberately ambiguous and confusing manner. The expression 100mSv can have three meanings: (1) a one-time irradiation dose, (2) cumulative irradiation doses, or (3) annual irradiation doses. So 100mSv is not the same as, nor equal to the 100mSv/year that you mentioned in parenthesis. The latter amounts to a 1Sv in cumulative dose over 10 years (which is an up to 10% lethal dose), and 5Sv over 50 years (which is a 50% lethal dose). The present government standard for evacuees to return, 20mSv/year, means that living there for 5 years leads to a cumulative dose of 100mSv, at which the Japanese government admits clear health risks.
Regarding 20Bq/kg as some farmers’ private food standard, it is critical to pay serious attention to the extraction process of Cs from tissues. Japanese-Canadian non-organic biochemist Eiichiro Ochiai points out in his book “Hiroshima to Fukushima, Biohazards of Radiation” (2014) that, based on the Leggett model, the Cs concentration injected in tissues at one time diminishes relatively quickly for about 10 days in most tissues. After that, processes slow down, tending to become steady. He writes: the decrease of the overall Cs level in the body does not follow an exponential decay curve (p.83). This means that consecutive intake of Cs, even in very low levels, results in the accumulation of Cs in the body. (Incidentally, Ochiai’s book can be downloaded for free from the website below.)
Regarding the Leggett model, see the website below.
Yuri Bandazhevsky considers over 10Bq/kg of radioactive Cs concentrations in the body to be unsafe because even this low level can possibly cause abnormal electrocardiographic pattern in babies, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure, cataracts, and so on.
Therefore, we can conclude unequivocally that neither the irradiation under 100mSv nor the privately set 20Bq/kg food standard are safe and secure.
PDF Download

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.
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November 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Prime Minister Requests ASEAN Nations to Lift Food Import Ban

 The way Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing with arrogance Fukushima contaminated produce to Japan’s neighbor nations is no surprise, we can see the influence of his grandfather in the Prime Minister’s own outlook.
The grandfather of current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was as a Class-A war criminal. Nobusuke Kishi, who served for three years as a senior official in the Manchukuo puppet government installed in Shenyang following the invasion. Kishi was initially charged with war crimes but was subsequently cleared of the charges by a Tokyo tribunal. He later rejoined politics and went on to become Prime Minister in 1957.
Mr. Abe is a “revisionist” bent upon denying wartime history, and also rewriting Japan’s pacifist Constitution and reviving militarism.
Mr. Abe, a Conservative politician who took office in December 2012, is attempting to rewrite history and downplay atrocities. Mr. Abe recently angered both China and South Korea – which also faced Japanese occupation – by becoming the first Japanese leader in seven years to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s civilian war-dead but also enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals, including officials behind the Nanking massacre.
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Japan has requested ASEAN nations to lift the ban on food import from the country, which was introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
MANILA (Sputnik) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his opening remarks at the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit in Manila on Tuesday requested ASEAN nations to lift the ban on food import from the country.
“Incidentally, it has been six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. I strongly request that import controls on Japanese food to be lifted, based on scientific grounds,” Abe said.
The Japanese prime minister added that Japan would start rice deliveries to Laos and Myanmar again through the APT Emergency Rice Reserve Agreement.
Following the devastating Fukushima nuclear accident caused by a massive earthquake in 2011, many countries around the world, including ASEAN nations, introduced various import restrictions on food produced in certain Japanese prefectures. Some countries have eased such restrictions in recent years.
During his previous remarks at APT summits in recent years, Abe brought up the issue of easing import restrictions on food produced in Japan consistently.

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 3 Comments