Six years have passed since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and the prefecture of Fukushima is making steady progress in its reconstruction and revitalization. Fukushima has long been famous for its agriculture, known since old times as one of Japan’s premier rice-growing regions, and also earning the nickname “The Fruit Kingdom.” Fukushima’s agriculture suffered drastically after the earthquake and the nuclear power accident that followed, but as a result of thorough safety measures implemented through national efforts, foods produced in Fukushima have been recognized as safe by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), as well as by many individual countries, and the prefecture’s exports are increasing. Japan hopes that more and more people will enjoy the safe and delicious foods from Fukushima in the years to come.
Fukushima Foods: Safe and Delicious
In 2011, Fukushima experienced a nuclear power accident. Is it safe to eat foods from Fukushima?
What is the scientific basis for asserting that food from Fukushima is safe to eat?
Are people eating foods from Fukushima?
Through multi-layer examinations for radioactive substances at each phase of production and distribution, Japan is enforcing a system in which only agricultural products that are confirmed to be safe are shipped.
During the production phase in particular, the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre conducts thorough and detailed examinations of agricultural products to be shipped and distributed, with 11 staff operating 11 germanium semiconductor detectors at full capacity. Furthermore, for rice, the staple food of the Japanese people, all volume and all bags of rice are swiftly examined using approximately 200 belt conveyor–type radioactive cesium concentration detectors installed in the various production districts throughout the prefecture.
In all examinations of Fukushima Prefecture rice, fruits, and vegetables in the 2016 fiscal year, none exceeded the standard level of 100 Bq/kg established by the Japanese government.
MESSAGES FROM FARMERS
The Goto family grows rice in Motomiya City, Fukushima, and they experienced a drastic decline in sales after the earthquake. They found that they could no longer rely on their old way of thinking, that “Fukushima rice is so good that it needs no advertising,” so they started a website to publicize the various safety measures they’re taking to reassure customers. The Goto family also welcomes everyone to visit and see the safety of its rice in person, offering hands-on farm tours and operating a farm-inn, which are receiving highly favorable reviews from customers.
The Sato family orchard is located in Iizaka, Fukushima City. After the earthquake, the Sato family participated in numerous seminars regarding food safety and has made many efforts to demonstrate the safety of its fruit. For example, they put their focus on earning JGAP certification, which is only given to those who undergo yearly third-party evaluation of food safety and environmental protection and meet the necessary criteria. At present, the Sato family’s entire farmland is JGAP certified. Their apples and persimmons have also achieved international “Global G.A.P.” certification, and they are preparing to acquire this certification for their peaches, grapes, and pears in time for the 2017 fall harvest as well.
The Saito family grows cucumbers in Okajima, Fukushima City. Before the earthquake they also grew other vegetables, which were so highly regarded that they were even sold at high-end grocery stores in Tokyo. But after the quake, the family decided to focus on cucumbers exclusively, in order to better manage their cultivation. Using information gathered all over Japan, the Saito family is actively exploring new farming methods, including soil improvement. They are also ensuring the utmost safety by taking measures such as only purchasing fertilizer that has been examined for radioactive cesium and other hazards.