Made in Fukushima: Aided by rigorous radiation checks, farmers and fishermen struggle to win trust via The Japan Times


The tsunami destroyed ports across the region and demand for Fukushima seafood is low despite an even stricter testing standard of 50 bq/kg.

“When we catch fish and send it to market in Tokyo, some people don’t want to buy it,” said Kazunori Yoshida, director of Iwaki’s fishing cooperative.

As a result, fishermen brought in just 3,200 tons of seafood in the area last year, down from 24,700 in 2010. 


The problem remains one of perception, despite the fact that independent testing confirms what government labs show.

The Minna no Data (Our Data) NGO carries out its own testing and spokesman Hidetake Ishimaru said the group was “very surprised” by the “mostly very low levels” it found in Fukushima produce.

At the international level, there has been some progress: Of the 54 countries that imposed restrictions on food from Fukushima after 2011, 27 have lifted the bans.

And another 23 markets, including the United States and European Union, have relaxed restrictions, though some regional neighbors, including China and South Korea, have kept bans in place.


Experts say the government’s science-based approach has done little to convince people.

“Nobody believes, just by shouting safety,” said Katsumi Shozugawa, a University of Tokyo professor who has studied Fukushima food safety. He said government testing was appropriate but attempts to convince consumers remained “poor.”

Tomiko Yamaguchi, sociology professor at Tokyo’s International Christian University, said some consumers were torn between fear over Fukushima produce and solidarity with residents there.

“People can’t talk about these things. It’s almost like a taboo,” she said.

“But regardless . . . if you are very concerned for your children, it doesn’t matter if there’s scientific evidence or not.”

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