Agricultural products around Fukushima experienced “embarrassing ten years”

The Japanese government announced on the 13th that the decision to discharge nuclear waste water into the sea triggered fierce resistance from Fukushima fishermen. Prior to this, agricultural products in Fukushima and surrounding counties and cities had been in an awkward situation for ten years. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, 54 countries and regions have restricted agricultural products from Fukushima and other places after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Although some countries’ import bans have been abolished or relaxed in the past 10 years, 15 countries and regions including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States still do not accept imports of agricultural products from that region.

Kyodo News reported that six countries and regions, including China, the United States and South Korea, still retain embargo measures, and nine countries and regions including the European Union and Russia require the submission of test certificates. Among them, mainland China has listed 10 prefectures and counties in Japan, including Fukushima and Tokyo, as targets of embargo, while South Korea has targeted aquatic products from 8 counties in Japan. These places are precisely the main export destinations of Japanese agricultural products in the past, and they have a great impact on the overall trade.

According to the “Japan Agricultural News”, in recent years, the agricultural output of the three counties affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake has been increasing. However, only Fukushima Prefecture has not recovered to its pre-earthquake level, which is in sharp contrast to the increase of nearly 20% in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures compared to before the earthquake.

According to a domestic survey conducted by the Consumer Agency of Japan in February this year, 8.1% of consumers hesitate to buy Fukushima food. The prices of the county’s main agricultural products continue to be lower than the average in Japan. Rice is 3% lower than the average price, beef is 11% lower, and peaches are 16% lower. In order to eliminate the “risk of damage” of agricultural products due to the nuclear accident, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries supports the promotion of agricultural products in Fukushima Prefecture through TV advertisements and the Internet. In 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued a notice to Japanese food wholesale and retail businesses “Don’t stop marketing or buying the county’s agricultural products.”

Although the Japanese government has been promoting the taste of agricultural products in Fukushima Prefecture and its surrounding areas, it still cannot dispel people’s safety concerns. According to the “Global Times” reporter observation, in the food districts of high-end department stores in big cities such as Tokyo, it is rare to see agricultural products sold in Fukushima Prefecture and its surrounding areas. Among ordinary supermarkets, the prices of agricultural products in Fukushima Prefecture and its surrounding areas are much lower than those in other regions. Many Japanese told reporters that in Japan, it is not possible to publicly state that they will not purchase agricultural and sideline products from Fukushima Prefecture and its surrounding areas, because “this will be criticized for not supporting the reconstruction of the disaster area.” Some people even showed their support for Fukushima’s post-disaster recovery, and they just threw them away after they bought Fukushima Prefecture’s agricultural products for a show.