The 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown spread radiation throughout Japan, landing on farmland and forests in varying quantities. Nearly six years on from the disaster, is Japan's food supply safe? The answer appears to be "yes", but with some questions in my mind.
Today's report that fish and other seafood near the coast of the Fukushima incident tested below government targets sounds good on paper. (1) Anytime over the last six years that I have read such reports, I wonder who did the testing, what types of equipment were used, how long each sample was tested, and how large the sample size was. Is it a good idea to have fishermen with "skin in the game" doing the testing? How about independent testers as part of the process?
More valuable to me is a look at which countries are accepting Japanese food exports. The good news is that most are, but Taiwan is one hold out. (2) Among the issues of concern has been false labeling cases leading to an estimated 75% of Taiwanese resistant to the idea of permitting food from the Tohoku region.
In the early days of the crisis when it was clear to me Japan had no national system in place to test food for the presence of radiation, I imported my food and ate at restaurants which were also importing food they served. Some restaurants would even note to customers that the wood they used to make pizza in ovens was from southern Japan.
Japan has come a long way since then. Time has eased people's concerns. I would still prefer more transparency in the process, but the real proof in the pudding for me has been diplomats I know in Tokyo who have their bodies tested for radiation outside Japan annually and have found nothing. That's good enough for me.
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