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S. Korea imports 400 tons of Fukushima goods

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SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) — South Korea has imported over 400 tons of foods grown with radiation exposure in Fukushima, Japan, over the past six years, a South Korean opposition lawmaker said Monday, despite local consumers’ worries over contamination.

A total of 407 tons of goods from the region were brought into the country, said Choi Do-ja of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, citing data of the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) submitted to the National Assembly.

A devastating earthquake off the east coast of Japan and a subsequent tsunami in 2011 led to the meltdown of nuclear reactors there, sparking worries among South Korean consumers that Japanese-produced goods, especially fishery products, have been contaminated with radiation.

By products, processed fishery goods stood as the top product with 233 tons, followed by mixed products with 51 tons and candy with 41 tons, the data showed.

The South Korean government currently sends back unsafe products from the region after screening them for cesium and iodine.

“Our people think that the government should more sternly limit imported foods from Japan despite the Seoul government’s stance that food from Fukushima is relatively safe following strict quarantine,” Choi said.

Despite the increased exports, industry watchers said the public anxiety over Japanese fishery goods still exists. In 2015, local authorities rounded up owners of 70 stores that deceived consumers on the origins of Japanese fishery products.

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2016/09/19/0200000000AEN20160919008100320.html

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September 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima rice to be sold in Britain

It’s horrible to think that if the rice is over 99 Bq/kg it cannot be sold in Japan yet it can have up to 600Bq/kg (?) of Cs137/134 and be sold in the EU. One man’s poison is another man’s food …

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Rice harvested in Japan’s Fukushima region, heavily affected by a nuclear meltdown in 2011, is returning to the EU, starting with Britain next month, the Japan Times reports.

A total of 1.9 tons of Fukushima rice called Ten no Tsubu will be sold in London, making the UK the first EU nation to import the region’s produce after the nuclear disaster. The sale became possible after a long campaign from Fukushima natives in London to fend off rumors about the potential danger of the crops, the media said.

With the UK as a foothold, we hope to expand the sale of prefecture-produced rice to other EU member countries,” said Nobuo Ohashi from Japanese farmers group Zen-Noh.

Brussels requires rice from Fukushima to undergo a radiation test in Japan or the importer country.

It’s bright news for Fukushima, which has been struggling with the import restrictions. We will make further efforts so the restrictions will be lifted entirely,” said a spokesperson for a prefectural office.

The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Plant was caused by a tsunami that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors and the release of radioactive material. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, and the second to receive the highest level classification on the International Nuclear Event Scale. 

A March report by the US National Academy of Sciences said that five years following the disaster, most seafood caught off the coast of Japan is now safe to be consumed, adding, “the overall contamination risk for aquatic food items is very low.”

https://www.rt.com/business/347459-fukushima-rice-japan-meltdown/

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan urges China to lift import ban on farm products in place since March 2011

BEIJING – Japan urged China on Monday to scrap its import restrictions on agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and food that have been in place since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kazuyoshi Honkawa, vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, made the request at a bilateral subcabinet-level dialogue in Beijing on agricultural issues.

The two countries reopened the dialogue for the first time in six years, after suspending talks due to deteriorated bilateral ties.

After the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, China prohibited all imports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and food from 10 prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Ibaraki.

Honkawa asked Chinese Vice Agriculture Minister Qu Dongyu to urge authorities to lift the import ban. The embargo is administered by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Honkawa said he did not receive a clear answer on the issue from the Chinese ministry.

After the dialogue, he told reporters that the rapidly growing Chinese market is very attractive for Japanese agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, suggesting his ministry’s aim of expanding farm exports to China.

Economic relations between Japan and China have been on the mend in recent months.

At talks last November, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to restart a high-level economic dialogue that brings together the two countries’ key economic officials at an early date this year. In December, Japan and China held economic partnership talks led by vice ministerial officials for the first time in more than five years.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/21/business/japan-urges-china-to-lift-import-ban-on-farm-products-in-place-since-march-2011/#.VvA5SHomySp

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

EDITORIAL: Each Fukushima water leak weakens faith in Japan’s food safety

sept 7, 2015 iwakiWholesalers check fish at a market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s dispute with South Korea over its import restrictions on Japanese seafood imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is now going to the World Trade Organization.

Following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, South Korea banned imports of some marine products caught in waters off Fukushima and seven other prefectures, mainly areas along the Pacific coast between Aomori and Chiba prefectures. Then in autumn 2013, Seoul expanded the scope of the ban to include all marine products from these prefectures.

The Japanese government responded to the move by criticizing the measure for “lacking a scientific basis.”

Tokyo has been demanding that the measure be withdrawn while cooperating with Seoul’s investigations. But the two countries have failed to resolve their disagreements, and Japan has asked the WTO to set up a dispute-settlement panel comprising experts from third countries to rule over South Korea’s import ban.

More than a dozen countries and areas have barred imports of all or part of Japanese-made foods, but the government has singled out South Korea because the country has expanded its restrictions.

The WTO tends to be regarded as dysfunctional because of the lack of progress in the global trade-liberalizing talks under its auspices. But the world trade watchdog has at least been performing its dispute-settling functions.

Japan has been making active use of the WTO’s ability to settle trade disputes.

Over the past several years, Tokyo has filed complaints with the WTO over China’s restrictions on exports of rare earth minerals and Ukraine’s emergency restrictions on automobile imports, for instance. These actions have produced certain positive results for Japan.

Japan’s diplomatic relations with South Korea remain strained over some long-standing territorial and history-related rows. But both countries should not allow these problems to affect the ways they deal with economic issues like trade disputes.

Tokyo and Seoul need to continue talks to seek an early solution to the dispute even while the WTO’s panel is hearing the case.

Four-and-a-half years after the accident, coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture, where the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant is located, are still subject to restrictions on shipments of certain kinds of fish. Even for the fishes not covered, fishermen in these areas are allowed to catch and sell them only on a “trial basis.”

A system has been established to ensure that farm, forestry and fishery products made in areas directly affected by the disaster as well as surrounding regions are shipped only after they have passed the safety standards in radiation tests. But consumers have shown a tendency to avoid all food products from these areas.

In cases of fishery products, only small-scale fishing operations and limited sales of products have been conducted to gauge the reactions from consumers.

The South Korean government says it has expanded the import curbs in response to leaks of radiation-contaminated water from the Fukushima plant.

With the South Korean public deeply worried about food contaminated with radioactive materials, the step was aimed at preventing confusion among consumers in the country, according to Seoul.

The scope of the import restrictions and the means involved may be open to dispute. It should be noted, however, that in both South Korea and Japan, food safety from a scientific viewpoint doesn’t necessarily reassure consumers.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has been plagued by leaks of polluted water. Local fishermen have lodged protests every time such an incident occurs.

It must not be forgotten that every leak of contaminated water makes consumers even more unwilling to put their faith in the safety of products from the areas.

The only way to restore the public’s trust in the safety of food is to ensure there will be no more leaks of contaminated water nor any exacerbation of the nuclear accident. The food trade dispute with South Korea should serve as a reminder of the absolute need to achieve these most basic nuclear safety goals.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201509070016

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | , , | Leave a comment