Governor promotes Fukushima rice at Tokyo supermarkets

TOKYO —

Fukushima Gov Yuuhei Sato visited supermarkets in Tokyo on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to convince shoppers that rice grown in his prefecture is safe. The tour comes in the same month that rice production in the area restarts fully for the first time since the tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster of 2011.

Sato brought radiation testing equipment and rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture to a supermarket in Edogawa Ward, Sankei Shimbun reported. He explained to shoppers, while testing samples of rice for radiation, that rice found to be emitting over 100 becquerels per kilogram would not be shipped to customers. Sato also said that results of these radiation tests on a variety of produce would be published on a web page.

According to industry experts, crops last year failed to meet safety standards, which resulted in them being banned from sale in Japan. However, since that time, work has been done to remove from rice fields minerals that absorb large amounts of radiation. As a result, local government officials say a higher proportion of Fukushima produce is now adhering to the government’s radiation guidelines and will be put on sale.

Japan Today

  • 9

    hoserfella

    If the PR push doesn't work out - and I doubt it will - history tells us that the gov't will allow the rice to be re-labeled as being from another prefecture.

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    Fukushima Gov Yuuhei Sato visited supermarkets in Tokyo on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to convince shoppers that rice grown in his prefecture is safe

    Now all Japanese rice are banned here in US becaue of Fukushima nuke leak disaster. Hope it will change soon.

  • 8

    cadmium31680

    The rice can easily be distributed to bento factories around the country. Coming soon to a conbini or supermarket near you!

  • 9

    Charles M Burns

    No thank you.

  • 9

    sillygirl

    after all the lies i find this hard to believe. sorry fukushima but that is the way it is.

  • 8

    cramp

    they'll just force it down the kids throats during school lunches...no one will be the wiser

  • 10

    zichi

    The mistrust was created in the beginning by the central gov't and the Fukushima gov't so its difficult to change that. Had all rice growing been banned for 5 years, while they understood the level of contamination, instead of telling everyone there wasn't a problem then when the time was right people would have been more willing to buy it.

  • 0

    Sherman

    The biggest problem here is that the power plant was named after the Prefecture,Fukushima. it is a huge prefecture that goes way west to boarder Niigata where the best rice is grown. It is so unfair to the Aizu area, which has great rice and unaffected by the fallout to get blamed for this.

  • -12

    Brainiac

    I saw this on NHK and was pleased to see consumers buying the rice to help Fukushima farmers. I'm going to buy some, also. I bought Fukushima peaches during the summer.

    I believe the rice is safe. It has probably been more stringently tested than other product in Japan right now. Unfortunately, the doubters, including Japan Today readers, will never be convinced, even if they an international panel of scientists did the tests right in front of their eyes.

    I say, give it a try and support Fukushima people.

  • 12

    Justina_Japan

    I was at the supermarket last week and they were selling bags of rice with the "From" part blatantly cut out. I showed my husband and he asked the salesperson about it. Of course they had no answer so my husband just said ayashii and we put the rice back. That's probably what they will have to end up doing to sell rice from Fukushima. Sad but true.

  • 7

    tairitsuiken

    When bizniz comes first, before comcern for the health of people, this is what you'll get. Some people, like @Brainiac, actually swallow these lies with the ever present "support the people of Fukushima". Good for them. People who can do critical thinking, realize that it seems a bit early to stand and smile in a supermarket and promote produce from an area that just one year ago was heavily affected by radiation. I am all for the supporting, but not at the cost of my kids and my own health.

    Seeing the news on NHK yesterday, there were many old people there doing the supporting something that doesn't surprise me all that much - they somehow still seem to have confidence in whatever any official voice tells them.

    Seeing as many truths and reassurances have been revised, my impression of Japan as a somewhat trustworthy nation has really changed.

  • 2

    bruinfan

    Just make sure it is labelled as such...just make sure.

  • 1

    ObviousDemon

    " crops last year failed to meet safety standards, which resulted in them being banned from sale in Japan"

    Where did it all go then???

    " Sato also said that results of these radiation tests on a variety of produce *would be *published on a web page."

    Not "have been" or "at this address" - but can't seem to regain that trust quickly enough....

  • 2

    JanesBlonde

    @ BrainiacNOV. 24, 2012 - 04:46PM JST

    Not convinced because the GOVT and a lot of Japanese business cannot be trusted.

    It is common knowledge that TEPCO is still pumping MILLIONS of gallons / litres of water into the facility to keep the spent fuel rods cool. They are physically UNABLE to properly manage the run off. This is resulting in contaminated water seeping out into the ocean and into the countrysides UNDERGROUND WATER TABLE. Once it is in the water tables 100's of meters underground it is moving around and is impossible to remove.

    So yes, they can remove the top 1-2 meters of soil and do a radiation check and it will look fine for the cameras. BUT over time the contaminated water will eventually rise and seep into back into the food chain. ESPECIALLY RICE which is grow in water.

    I would NOT be feeding my children food from there. If you choose to take a chance with your children's lives and feed them food sourced from that region, you may be extremely regretful 20 years from now.

  • -2

    mrkobayashi

    justina, so the bag of rice had a hole in it?

  • 0

    some14some

    Seeing as many truths and reassurances have been revised, my impression of Japan as a somewhat trustworthy nation has really changed.

    exactly, therefore i will not trust Sato's radiation testing equipment or rice.

  • 6

    Mike Critchley

    I haven't touched Japanese rice for 2 years -- and I live here, so it's no easy feat. The government set the 100bq/Kg limit...which implies that ingesting some cesium is good for you. It's not. Even the tiniest amount lodged in your colon can set of cancerous mutations.

    And while there are alternatives, I trust suppliers even less than I trust the Japanese government. One milk distributor I know personally in Chiba told me in about October last year that his family will not test their milk sourced from Ibaraki because they don't have to, and if they did find high radiation they would go out of business. I'm sure that will be a comfort for the young children drinking that milk who develop cancer later in life.

  • 2

    Justina_Japan

    @ mrkobayashi- It was a paper label stuck onto the bag of rice. No holes in the plastic.

  • 1

    Ah_so

    If it cannot be sold labelled as Fukushima, it can end up in onigiri, bento and on restaurant tables.

  • 0

    hereforever

    I'll most definitely buy some..........after I see politicians and their families eating it.

  • 0

    Star-viking

    Mike Critchley Nov. 24, 2012 - 05:55PM JST

    The government set the 100bq/Kg limit...which implies that ingesting some cesium is good for you. It's not. Even the tiniest amount lodged in your colon can set of cancerous mutations.

    No, the limit means that the cesium isotope is unlikely to harm you - not the same as being good for you. Also, the limits are for cumulative use - eating the same kind of rice day-in-day-out - so for occasional and one-off eating it might as well be no cesium.

    And while there are alternatives, I trust suppliers even less than I trust the Japanese government. One milk distributor I know personally in Chiba told me in about October last year that his family will not test their milk sourced from Ibaraki because they don't have to, and if they did find high radiation they would go out of business.

    The big problem with milk was Iodine-40, cows get it from the grass they eat. The thing is, Iodine-40 has a half-life of 8 days, so there is virtually none left in the environment now

    I'm sure that will be a comfort for the young children drinking that milk who develop cancer later in life.

    Let's hope they don't take up smoking with the worry...

  • -3

    Star-viking

    JanesBlonde Nov. 24, 2012 - 05:46PM JST

    It is common knowledge that TEPCO is still pumping MILLIONS of gallons / litres of water into the facility to keep the spent fuel rods cool. They are physically UNABLE to properly manage the run off. This is resulting in contaminated water seeping out into the ocean and into the countrysides UNDERGROUND WATER TABLE. Once it is in the water tables 100's of meters underground it is moving around and is impossible to remove.

    Groundwater generally flows from the land to the sea, so little worry there.

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    So, how did they clean out the radiation from all those acres of rice fields? Dump in new soil? From where? It seems too massive to be believed. Really, they should have abandoned the fields, paid the farmers to hang in there for a few years, and leveled with the people of Japan. Now, no one believes the authorities.

    I know I am only eating rice I bought immediately following 3/11 that had not been raised during our new Age of Radioactive Fallout.

  • -7

    avigator

    Let Japanese buy japanese.

  • 0

    unequivocallyobservingjapan

    Let the Fukushima farmers and the associated business eat their own product. How does that old saying go. Act locally............... as in buy your neighbor's goods. No better time than now to put that notion into action.

  • -7

    Hikozaemon

    Love the "not my problem, boycott Fukushima even if it is tested and shown safe" attitude here.

    Foreigners like to point out hibakusha, buraku and Minamata victim discrimination against Japanese by Japanese as some kind of Japanese phenomenon of stigmatization and discrimination.

    But let's face it - gaijins in Japan are probably the worst perpetrators of this kind of stigmatization, and the comments above on this thread prove it.

    Righteous unless it affects me....

  • -6

    Hikozaemon

    And yes, btw - no matter how hard you try to avoid this stuff, if you eat out, you WILL eat Fukushima rice. Restaurants, supermarket bento makers, onigiri shops, convenience stores will by the best rice they can get at the best price, and they don't have to disclose the origin of the rice they use.

    So if you really are going to get all paranoid about Fukushima rice, you'd best leave Japan now.

  • 0

    blendover

    Doesn't quite follow. Should be, 'if you are a typical expat who has to eat every second meal in a restaurant or out of a combini and hates the idea of sourcing local organically grown produce, and you are paranoid about Fukushima rice and other products, you'ld best leave Japan now.`

    Personally, my rice and veggies are for the most part all grown within a 10 km radius of my home (at some considerable distance from Fukushima) by people I have a personal relationship with and who tell me what their cultivation methods are. I also avoid the majority of processed foods, and when I do use them take care to find out thier origins.

    To some people, that makes me out there weird. But to me it's just a normal lifestyle. If I get sick anyway, well bad luck, but I'm not leaving Japan.

  • -5

    Hikozaemon

    Blendover - I think it goes further than that. If you eat out at all, don't need to be an expat. If you eat at the company caffeteria. If you eat a conbini bento. If you go to a Japanese izakaya or restaurant. If you get a quick Japanese fast food donburi. If you get a lunchbox set from the supermarket.

    Unless you actually purchase and cook all your own food, three meals a day, or somehow can cut rice and vegetables out of your diet, you are going to eat Fukushima food - especially if you are in Kanto or anywhere north of there, for which Fukushima was and remains a breadbasket direct supplier.

    Frankly, especially for Tokyo residents, it will be impossible to live here and not consume Fukushima rice without realizing it. Myself, and my family already undoubtedly eat veges from affected prefectures, and China (which still is a bigger and more legitimate fear, given the food safety issues they continue to have there).

    I have no problem with people being hysterical about this. Just keep it to yourself and quietly leave.

    Just don't go to Europe - their food is much more contaminated, and cesium standards are set much more loosely than those applied in Japan. But go to Canada, or Australia or something, and enjoy your life there.

  • 1

    wanderlust

    Doesn't the test for radiation in food take around 24 hours to complete, due to the minuscule amounts of radiation take a long time to reach a measurable level, and the container must also be heavily shielded to avoid background radiation affecting the result? Not quite a 30 second wave your detector over this vegetable, and all is well!

    Sounds more like a PR exercise, rather than a genuine measurement and reassurance...

  • 3

    hereforever

    Hikozaemon, you sound like a true politician or company executive. People shouldnt keep quite and accept a dangerous situation. If you check some Japanese blogs, you'll see it is not only foreigners concerned with what they feed their kids. People of a country should not standbby and allow their government to lie and cheat the general public. We have seen this too much since 3/11. Its the people who speak out that try to keep danger from the hard working tax payers. If everyone concerned was to leave Japan, the country would become a wasteland. If you'd like to see how a real politician should do his/her job, study up on how the governor of New Jersey is handling Hurricane Sandy.

  • 4

    zichi

    Not all of Fukushima land was contaminated, and not all rice grown contains radiation. Until a testing of all farms is made, and a license issued to grow rice its difficult to know which farms are contaminated and those which are not. All rice grown in Fukushima should be tested by an independent company set up to do that, and not connected with the local gov't.

    The level of radiation allowed in Fukushima should be zero or unmeasurable because then people would know its free of contamination. All contaminated rice can be bought by the gov't and compensated by TEPCO so the farmers don't have to worry about selling their rice.

    Other prefectures were also contaminated, especially Ibaraki and part of Miyagi. I don't know if they are testing rice and green tea in Ibaraki? The level of cesium in Lake Kasumigaura, the second largest lake in Japan, is increasing. The lake provides fish,drinking water and water for rice fields and farming.

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    The number of countries willing to ban goods from Japan is growing daily.Cars,cement and tyres have been found to be radioactively contaminated.Why would Russia,China,Korea and Mongolia strictly vet and reject Japanese products while countries such as Thailand import peaches from Fukushima? 25,000 children in Fukishima have cysts in their throats due to some unknown cause-why is that? Nobody in Japan wants to officially link heart disease,chronic illness,cancer or anything else negative with the still ongoing release and dispersion of radiation all around Japan. Someone waves a magic wand and suddenly the rice that was unsafe last year is safe this year?

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    Had there been honest disclosure of the situation from the start then I'd be willing to go with the 'party line'. However,that has not been the case. There has been a policy of non disclosure from the start of the initial tragedy for me to ever have confidence in any official pronouncement.

  • -2

    Shi Yuehan

    very popular among the Asian community in America, in spite of the premium cost.

  • -4

    Hikozaemon

    Hmm, so let's be clear since we have a consensus.

    People here seem convinced that (1) All Fukushima food should be treated as contaminated, (2) Japanese government standards, while stricter and testing more thorough than anywhere else in the world, cannot be trusted and all such food should be considered unsafe even if tested, (3) this is Fukushima's problem, and the people of Fukushima should be forced to consume all food produced there without spreading the contamination of that food elsewhere, (4) the people of Fukushima are unlucky to have lived with a nuclear reactor that melted down, but now that has happened, the best thing Japan and the world can do is isolate them and limit the spread of their contamination by boycotting and isolating them.

    My advice to anyone, Japanese, gaijin, or Martian, is that if you want to stigmatize and isolate Fukushima produce, the ONLY way it is physically possible is to leave Japan. You can comment all you want, but as a practical issue, the choice is pretty simple. You either accept the risk and trust that everyone is doing their best to ensure safety, or you don't trust, scream about it, and stop eating anything you don't buy and cook yourself - which some Japanese are doing.

    I'm staying. And eating out. I hope the government testing of Fukushima rice is thorough, and on that basis, that it does something to help the recovery of the prefecture and the people who are getting abused for being victims of all this.

    Peace

  • 2

    zichi

    High speed food radiation testing system used for testing rice from Fukushima

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7lNpD2Kg5I

  • 3

    zichi

    A farmer in Onami, Japan, was suspicious of the government’s findings that his rice crop was safe. He had his rice tested on his own and found that it contained a radioactive element in levels that exceeded government safety limits. It just goes to show that first line of defense for food safety is always the clear conscience of the producer.

    http://westernfarmpress.com/blog/food-safety-clear-conscience-japan-s-rice-producers

  • 2

    iceshoecream

    After 3/11 we all know the government is a big fat lair so, no thank you.

  • -4

    Hikozaemon

    Zichi - so what are you going to do? Cook your own food 3 meals a day?

  • 4

    zichi

    Hikozaemon,

    that's what we actually do, cook our own food three times a day but not because of any fear of contaminated foods. We live in West Japan and we also work from home. We like rice from a village called Tamba in Hyogo Prefecture, also great sake. We mostly buy organic veg from a farmers market. We do eat out sometimes but its rare these days. We are also too old to be worrying about any radiation problem.

    But I understand that people living in Tokyo will need to eat out, buy Bento boxes. Without knowing the source of the rice.

    I understand the concerns of the people about the contaminated food especially if they have young children. I also understand the problem for the farmers. But both the local gov't's and the central one mishamdled the situation from the very beginning by telling us the food was safe, when in fact, some of it was contaminated, and reached the market place and even schools.

    The current situation could have been avoided if it had been handled correctly by banning all farming in Fukushima for 5 years. Testing all the farms, issuing licenses for clean land, testing the produce. The people would have been assured on the safety and quality.

    Instead, the damage to the farmers in Fukushima will take many decades to repair and it may never return to the position it once held.

    Don't blame the people for not trusting. Trust must now be earned.

  • 6

    zichi

    Hikozaemon,

    25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in Britain there are still farms not allowed to produce foodstuffs. There are still about 350 farms which must test all their foodstuffs before releasing them to market.

    A major nuclear disaster is not like other disasters. After the Hanshin earthquake, Kobe City was in good shape after 5 years, better shape after 10 years, and the reconstruction finished after 15 years. With the current pace, the reconstruction of Tohoku could take several decades.

    The problems created by the nuclear disaster with its contamination of 5% of the land mass, contamination of the ocean, the mountains and rivers, will take many decades to resolve. Fukushima is on the front line of the nuclear disaster, the people deserve all the support we can give them.

    There's needs to be a clear policy about producing foodstuffs there, and in other prefectures which received large doses of fall out from the Fukushima atomic plant, which is still releasing radiation into the atmosphere and the ocean.

    There needs to be accurate radiation maps showing effected areas. There's needs to a clear understandable policy for growing foodstuffs, its testing and the labelling of those foodstuffs.

    People should be able to check online, where food was produced, what were the test results. 100% transparency will lead to earning a greater trust from the people.

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    Shi YuehanNov. 25, 2012 - 10:37AM JST

    very popular among the Asian community in America, in spite of the premium cost.

    No, Shi, what you are eating here in US is a Japanese crop grown in California, not from Japan.Please look at the labels again. The method of growing rice in California is not the same as Japanese. Japanese grown rice is so much better than California rice because of this. I always carry a bag of rice ( from Kushuu) in my suitcase for special occasions. whenever I go to Japan. .

  • 0

    Star-viking

    zichiNov. 25, 2012 - 06:28PM JST

    25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in Britain there are still farms not allowed to produce foodstuffs. There are still about 350 farms which must test all their foodstuffs before releasing them to market.

    Last bans were lifted in May.

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