Agricultural production and exports by Japan, including premium “wagyu” beef and rice, are under threat of radioactive contamination for Forex trading market, as the nation struggles to stem pollution from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has asked each prefectural governor to start testing agricultural and marine products along with drinking water for possible contamination in order to keep tainted food including grains, milk, vegetables, meat and eggs from the market, said Kumiko Tanaka at the ministry’s policy planning and communication division.
The action highlights the severity of the radiation leak from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of Tokyo, after Japan’s biggest earthquake on record and tsunami hit the area on March 11. Workers resumed dousing the damaged reactor structures with seawater from fire trucks today, as they try to stem radioactive pollution from the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
The Health Ministry has tentatively set tolerable levels of radioactivity for each product. For drinking water, the level is set at 300 becquerel per kilogram of radioactive iodine. For milk, 200 becquerel per kilogram of radioactive cesium.
If contaminated foods are discovered through testing, the health ministry will order their producers to suspend output and shipments immediately, Tanaka said.
Pollution from the nuclear plant has also dealt a blow to Japan’s agriculture ministry as it aims to boost rice exports to China and beef exports to Hong Kong as premium products.
Japan exported 1,898 tons of rice last year, according to the ministry. Hong Kong was the biggest importer with 654 tons, followed by Singapore with 334 tons. Fukushima represented 4.5 percent of Japan’s total rice production last year.
The European Union recommended more controls on agricultural products from Japan following the radiation leaks from the Fukushima nuclear-power plant, European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent told reporters in Brussels yesterday.
Asian countries have started to screen food imports from Japan following explosions at the nuclear plant that raised radiation levels at the complex to harmful levels.
South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines all took steps to check fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood from Japan for nuclear material. A radiation dose of 100 millisieverts a year is the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is evident, the World Nuclear Association said on its website.