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ECONOMY > Agriculture

Fears the Fukushima water release will exacerbate local fishing industry’s difficulties

  • September 11, 2020
  • , Asahi , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

After the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, industries of surrounding prefectures suffered losses from damaging rumors as well as Fukushima. Ibaraki Prefecture was forced to discard unsold vegetables and run a large-scale campaign for two years to battle harmful rumors. Miyagi Prefecture lost the export market for cultured sea squirt to South Korea. The market had accounted for 70 to 80% of the prefecture’s production prior to the accident. In 2016 and 2017, Miyagi destroyed more than half of the sea squirt it produced.


To this day, South Korea has maintained a ban on seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima, while China continues to ban seafood imports from ten Japanese prefectures.


In light of this, Japan’s National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations adopted a special resolution in June to oppose the government plan to release radiation-contaminated water into the ocean, pointing out that the release could have a devastating effect on the future of Japan’s fishing industry.


Japan’s domestic customers are not well informed about radioactive contamination of food either. According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Affairs Agency this year, 46.9% of respondents said they were not aware that foods are tested for radioactive substances. Each year, an increasing number of participants say they are unaware of the tests, which have been conducted once or twice a year since 2013. Meanwhile, a study by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries showed that Japanese consumers are hesitant to use products from Fukushima as a gift.


Ryota Koyama, an agricultural economics professor at Fukushima University studying reputation damage, said: “Countries neighboring Japan are expressing concern about the release into the ocean, and local people are concerned about the long-term impact. Despite this, information on the consequences of the release is not sufficiently shared, especially with members of the younger generation. What worries me most is that the Japanese government may rush to release the contaminated water without obtaining the understanding of the people.” (Abridged)

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