Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Fukushima farmers still struggling to win trust

AFP, KORIYAMA, Japan

At the international level, there has been some progress: 27 nations of the 54 that imposed restrictions on food from Fukushima after 2011 have now lifted those bans.

Another 23 markets, including the US and EU, have relaxed restrictions, although some regional neighbors, including Taiwan, China and South Korea, have kept bans in place.

The perception problem also persists domestically, with surveys showing some Japanese consumers still avoid Fukushima produce.

Experts say the government’s science-based approach has done little to convince people.

“Nobody believes just by shouting safety,” said Katsumi Shozugawa, a University of Tokyo professor who has studied Fukushima food safety.

Government testing was appropriate, but attempts to convince consumers remained “poor,” he said.

Tomiko Yamaguchi, sociology professor at Tokyo’s International Christian University, said some consumers were torn between fear over Fukushima produce and solidarity with residents there.

“People can’t talk about these things. It’s almost like a taboo,” she said. “But regardless ... if you are very concerned for your children, it doesn’t matter if there’s scientific evidence or not.”

On a farm in Fukushima where peaches hang ready to be picked, 14th-generation farmer Chusaku Anzai said he was resigned to the situation.

“There’s no point wasting our energy trying to convince those who don’t want our products,” the 69-year-old said, his face worn by five decades of farmwork. “We can’t do anything but wait for them to change their minds.”

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