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To allay Fukushima fears, radiation checks made easy in Tokyo cafes, stores via The Asahi Shimbun

In a peaceful ivy-covered restaurant in the Fussaninomiya district in Fussa, western Tokyo, several women and children are having lunch. In the corner sits a machine that looks like a rice cooker. It is a radiation detector, made in Belarus.

When three reactors melted down in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011, dumping radioactive materials across large areas of land and ocean, many people in Japan feared for their health and that of their growing children.

“I wasn’t confident I could serve food and tell people it was safe to eat,” recalled 49-year-old owner Osamu Matsuo. He shuttered the restaurant for half a year after the Fukushima disaster.

In January this year, Matsuo bought the detector and welcomed diners once more. He now checks all meals and drinks served in Restaurant Aurora. He proudly declares it a “becquerel-free restaurant.”

“We need places where we can check that food is safe, in a calm manner,” he said. Matsuo said many people in Japan are uncomfortable dealing with those who worry about the threat of radiation. They silence any discussion, he says, with remarks such as “You are too nervous,” or “Quiet! You’re making me worried.”

Radiation monitoring stations now exist across Japan. Many are found in public facilities, such as local council buildings, but an increasing number are offered by private restaurants and cafes.

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