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Christmas in the Radiation Zone via The Independent

It’s the first thing you notice. Electric orange, ripe and luscious persimmons hang from every bough. As we drive through the country and over the glittering, snow-specked mountain range from Fukushima city to Soma on the northeast coast of Japan, we pass many persimmon trees dotting the landscape, all laden with fruit, ready for harvesting.

But this year, the persimmons of Fukushima prefecture will remain untouched. Bounty only for microbial decomposers, they are a silent reminder of the slow-burning, far-reaching menace of a nuclear accident.

Since March 11, local people, long skilled in farming this verdant and fertile region, have added expertise about the effects of radiation to their library of stored knowledge. The persimmons are deemed unsafe, irradiated by the releases from the stricken nuclear plant at Fukushima-Daiichi, 15 miles south of here. I am told the persimmons, which, when peeled and dried by a traditional process, are called hoshigaki, were a local specialty. Now, they have particularly high levels of radioactive contamination.

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