Fukushima, Aug. 19 (Jiji Press)–Exports of farm products from Fukushima Prefecture have been on a recovery path, overcoming reputational damage after the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture in 2011.
The exports hit a record high in terms of volume for the third straight year in fiscal 2019 and managed to remain at a high level in fiscal 2020 despite the negative effects of the novel coronavirus.
Local farmers feel that unfounded rumors about contamination of Fukushima food are receding, although there are concerns that the government’s decision to release into the ocean treated radioactive water from the nuclear power plant, crippled by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, will create further reputational damage.
Following the nuclear disaster, up to 54 countries and regions have restricted imports of Fukushima-grown farm products, such as peach and rice. Currently, 14 economies, including China and South Korea, are banning their imports.
The exports grew as restrictions worldwide eased, reaching 305 tons in fiscal 2019, which ended in March 2020, double the pre-meltdown level.
In fiscal 2020, Fukushima peach exports halved as sales promotion campaigns in Malaysia and other countries had to be suspended due to the spread of the virus.
In Hong Kong and Singapore, however, Fukushima rice attracted household demand as the pandemic forced people to stay home.
As a result, the rice exports dropped only by 6.6 pct from fiscal 2019, to 285 tons. For the current year, the exports are expected to surpass the fiscal 2020 level.
After the nuclear accident, one of the worst in history, Tetsuo Goto, a peach farmer in the town of Koori, has been trying to grow a high-sugar breed called CX. He has also acquired a good agricultural practice certificate for sustainable farming.
Thanks to these efforts, Goto is receiving more orders than before the disaster and has managed to attract more fans for his produce.
He is also shrugging off the fallout from the pandemic. However, he looks glim when he talks about the nuclear plant water.
“I don’t want see malicious rumors spread again,” Goto said.