News / Asia

    Radioactive Food Worries Expand in Japan

    A young boy carries his allotment of food at a shelter after being evacuated from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, March 20, 2011.
    A young boy carries his allotment of food at a shelter after being evacuated from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, March 20, 2011.

    Japanese government officials say food and milk contaminated with radiation is being detected in a wider than expected area. Some shipments are now being stopped, although authorities stress that ingesting the items will not immediately harm people.  

    Japan's government is reporting additional cases of contaminated vegetables. Authorities say the radiation detected on produce, in milk and tap water is more extensive than anticipated following radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged by a tsunami.

    The giant waves hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11 following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

    Japan is now halting the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture and spinach from Ibaraki prefecture. Officials late Sunday revealed that two more vegetables, canola and chrysanthemum greens, have also been found to be contaminated and in three more prefectures.

    Further restrictions on distribution of crops grown in the region are being considered.

    But officials say even in the worst cases of radiation detected in the food, a person would have to consume the items for a year before health concerns would arise.

    Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011
    Teams of government and nuclear specialists at the emergency rescue headquarters analyze data from the leaked radiation from the Fukushima nuclear facilitiesin Fukushima, Japan, March 19, 2011
    Another worry is rising levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in tap water, with the highest concentrations in Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures.

    At a news conference, the government's deputy chief cabinet secretary, Tetsuro Fukuyama, was asked if he would allow his children to drink the contaminated milk and tap water and eat spinach from the worst-affected areas.

    Fukuyama says he does not allow his children to drink milk in the first place, even before this incident or otherwise. But regarding the spinach and the tap water, at the current radiation concentrations, he would not hesitate to permit his children to consume the vegetable or the water.

    Officials acknowledge some suspect produce may have been shipped before it could be tested for radiation. 

    Traces of radioactive substances in the air and water, believed to emanate from the crippled nuclear plant, have been detected as far as Tokyo, 250 kilometers away.

    The Japanese minister in charge of consumer affairs and food safety, is appealing via an official web site posting for the public to act calmly and not be confused by groundless rumors from unreliable sources.

    The food and water contamination scares are a further headache for Japan's government, already overwhelmed by the triple crises of extensive earthquake damage, destroyed communities from the resulting tsunami, and the disaster at the six-reactor Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

    The crippled facility continues to emit high levels of radiation as workers attempt to restore power for critical pumps and firefighters in tandem spray water on reactor buildings and re-fill fuel-rod cooling pools.

    Yet another concern is on the horizon. Weather forecasters predict rain showers in the area Monday.

    Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the precipitation would not pose any health worries, but given the current levels of radioactivity, people should avoid getting wet while outdoors.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora