South Korea, on Friday, expanded its ban on Japanese fisheries products over concerns of contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The government in Seoul accuses Japan of not providing enough information on the crisis.
Consumption of fish products in South Korea has dropped sharply in recent weeks as concerns grow that workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP struggle to contain leaks.
Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that “up to 300 tons of mildly contaminated groundwater is making its way into the Pacific Ocean every day”; a situation that has been going on for years. Moreover, TEPCO recently admitted that “highly toxic water made its way into the Pacific Ocean”.
South Korea previously imposed an import ban on dozens of Japanese fisheries products produced in Fukushima and sever other prefectures following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP following a massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in 2011.
The government in Seoul has now widened the ban to all fisheries products from Fukushima prefecture as well as the prefectures of Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori. South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries issued a statement stressing that:
“The measure comes as our people’s concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water leak every day from the site of Japan’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. … The government has concluded that the information provided by Japan so far has failed to make it clear how the incident will develop in the future. … Under the new measure, all fisheries products from this region will be banned regardless of whether they are contaminated or not.”
The Ministry also urged the government in Tokyo to immediately provide full and accurate information on leaks of contaminated water. A growing number of radiation and environmental health experts stress that the claim that dilution of the radioactive water in the “vast Pacific Ocean” would make it safe to ingest fish caught off shore is right-out wrong and misleading because:
The bio accumulation of radioactive nuclei in fish;
The ingestion of one single isotope may, depending on what isotope it is and where it is lodged in the human body, cause various forms of cancer.
Eating fish from a batch that passed a “Geiger counter” test is in other words still like “participating in a fishy cancer lottery”.
However, in Tokyo on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga challenged South Korea over the ban and claimed:
“We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence.”
What Suga conveniently omitted was that Japan, following the nuclear disaster in 2011, changed its regulations – apparently because Japanese experts suddenly realized that the human body (and the Japanese economy) can “safely tolerate much higher doses” than thought before the disaster. Moreover, the contamination in Japan is according to many independent observers so bad that one would have to probe each single food item separately to be “relatively safe”.
Earlier this week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged global concerns over the “haphazard” management of the crisis by TEPCO and said his administration will step in with public money to get the job done. Abe didn’t specify how this “public money” should be spent, how much will be made available, how Japan wants to end the “haphazard approach” to the crisis, and maybe most importantly, who the recipient of this money would be.
In November 2015 former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Mitshei Murata called on the President of the International Olympic Committee to move the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo or to cancel the games over together.
In May 2016 private activists in Japan accused Tokyo of “cooking data”. Radiation readings conducted by private activists, 40 km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility are about eight to ten times higher than those published by authorities, said Yoichi Tao who majored in physics.
Research by Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, showing that the rate of children suffering from thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture was as much as 20 to 50 times higher than the national average as of 2014 is being dismissed as based on “over diagnosing”.
Moreover, Japan has introduced strict legislation that can be used to put anyone who publishes not officially approved data about Fukushima or anyone who “leaks” information rather than radiation behind bars for up to ten years. This includes investigative journalists.
In 2014 independent journalists like Mako Oshidori received a thinly-veiled threat from TEPCO when she reported about the death of Fukushima cleanup workers, and who stressed she was “intimidated by police“. Mako courageously reported that she discovered a TEPCO memo, in which the Fukushima Daiichi operator TEPCO instructs officials to “cut Mako-chan’s (questions) short, appropriately”. Mako Oshidori was enrolled in the School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine for three years.
Mako revealed that TEPCO and the government cover-up the death of Fukushima workers and that government agents began following her around after she began investigating the cover-up. Mako said:
“I heard about it from researchers who were my friends as well as some government officials. I will show you a photo I secretly took of the agent, so you know what kind of surveillance I mean. When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation….
“I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at (the) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) after the accident. .. He was a nurse at Fukushima Daiichi NPP in 2012. He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him. …
“As of now of now, there are multiple NPP workers who have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported. …
“Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers”.
TEPCO memo, advising to “cut short” Mako Oshidori’s questions, e.t.c
However, the new legislation that “empowered” the government to impose ten year prison sentences for “unauthorized” journalism and dissemination of unauthorized information about the Fukushima Daiichi NPP and related issues for reasons of “national security” has since then largely silenced Mako, and many other journalists, experts in health, environmental health, environmental studies, radiation studies …
Is Seoul “over reacting” and is Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga right when he claims: “We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence”? What evidence, sampled by whom, analyzed on the basis of ??? . …
BEIJING, June 3 (Yonhap) — China’s foreign ministry said Friday it hopes to strengthen communication with relevant countries such as South Korea to resolve pollution from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Japan should take effective measures with responsibility for its people, neighboring countries and the international community,” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.
Earlier on Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that an official from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, admitted to concealing the harmfulness of the disaster. It also cited a U.S. expert who said “80 percent of the leaked radioactive substances have flown into the sea.”
Hua urged Japan to beef up its capability to deal with the disaster and provide relevant information to international society in a “timely, comprehensive and accurate” manner.
China has been warning its citizens and organizations to be cautious in visiting Fukushima since the disaster took place, and the suggestion is still valid, Hua said.
A devastating earthquake struck off Japan’s northeast coast in March 2011, triggering a tsunami that led to the reactor meltdown and radiation leak.
Gov’t opts not to disclose radiation test result of Japanese fishery goods
The government has rejected calls to disclose the results of radiation level checks conducted on fishery goods caught near Japan, a civic group said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Tuesday dismissed the information disclosure request filed by the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, the group said.
“As the information is related to a case pending at the World Trade Organization, (the disclosure) could lead to a leakage of our strategy to Japan,” the ministry was quoted by the group as saying.
The lawyers association, however, countered that the reason provided by the authorities was groundless since the government has to submit its findings to the WTO and Japan anyways.
Tokyo filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization against Seoul’s import ban of its fishery goods.
South Korea has banned imports of all fishery products from eight Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, marking the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster.
The import ban was imposed in September 2013 after reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima reactor were being dumped in waters surrounding Japan. This caused serious safety concerns here, that not only affected Japanese imports but the local fishery sector as a whole. (Yonhap)
S. Korea Will Not Share Fukushima Fish Tests
South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has rejected a petition from a civil society group to release the results of radiation testing on fish caught near Japan following the Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown.
In 2013, South Korea imposed a ban on the importation of fisheries products from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima. Tokyo objected, and petitioned the World Trade Organization for relief, claiming that the ban was unfair to Japanese exporters. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has already submitted the results of its testing to the WTO and to Japan as part of the dispute, and advocates claimed that it should be made public as well.
The ministry disagreed. “As the information is related to a case pending at the World Trade Organization (WTO), [it] could lead to a leakage of our strategy to Japan,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.
A study of radioactive cesium levels in fish off of Fukushima in 2011 by Pavel Povinec and Katsumi Hirose found that consuming 100 kg of the affected seafood per year (four times the Japanese annual average) would result in approximately the same radiation dose as the world average for background exposure – and roughly the same as the level of exposure from consuming the naturally occuring radioactive polonium in 100 kg of any other seafood.
“Radiation doses from ingestion of marine food are under control, and they will be negligible,” the authors concluded.
However, a study published in February by Hiroshi Okamuraa and Shiro Ikedab found that while radioactive cesium levels were overall quite low among most species in Japan, they were unequally distrubuted, with some much more likely to be contaminated than others, especially larger predators towards the top of the food chain. Additionally, effects are regional and vary between freshwater and marine species, the authors said: areas nearer and to the south of the reactor are more affected, and freshwater fish – notably whitespotted char and Japanese eel – are more likely to show higher levels of contamination.
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