Tue, Oct 01, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Japan lists Fukushima radiation levels

TIGHTENING CONTROLS:South Koreans have become increasingly wary of radiation in Japan amid a trade row, with some lawmakers calling for a boycott and travel ban

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s embassy in South Korea has begun posting the daily radiation levels in Fukushima and Seoul after new questions about the lingering effects of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The information reflects that “interest in radiation levels in Japan has recently been increasing, particularly in South Korea,” the embassy Web site said.

The move came amid worsening ties between Japan and South Korea over a long-running disagreement about Japanese use of forced labor in South Korea during World War II.

The two countries have taken retaliatory trade measures against each other, and South Korea has tightened radiation checks on Japanese food imports.

The readings show that radiation levels in three Japanese cities are almost the same as in major cities outside of Japan, including Seoul, the embassy has said.

“The Japanese government hopes the South Korean people’s understanding about Japan’s radiation levels will deepen as we continue to provide accurate information based on scientific evidence and explain it fully with clarity,” it said in Japanese and Korean on the Web site.

Questions have also been raised about the safety of the Olympic Games being held in Tokyo next year, with some South Korean lawmakers pushing for a boycott and travel ban over what they portray as radiation risks from Fukushima.

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a massive tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast in the nation’s northeast.

The plant spewed radioactive materials into the air, soil and water in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Fukushima City, about 70km from the stricken nuclear power plant, is to host baseball and softball games during the Olympics.

Food from the Fukushima region is expected to be served to Olympic athletes as part of government efforts to tout the safety of produce from the area and its strict safety controls.

The Japanese embassy in Seoul last week began posting the radiation levels, showing figures for two cities in Fukushima Prefecture along with levels in Tokyo and Seoul.

The latest post shows that the level in Fukushima City was 0.135 microsieverts per hour, a similar reading to 0.120 microsieverts per hour in Seoul.

The level in Fukushima Prefecture’s Iwaki City, 30km from the plant, was 0.060 microsieverts, while in Tokyo, more than 200km away, it was 0.036 microsieverts.

The posts use data taken by radiation monitoring authorities in both countries as well as by local offices in Fukushima.

One microsievert is one-1,000th of a millisievert, and the observed levels translate into a yearly dose of 1.182 millisieverts in Fukushima City and 1.051 millisieverts in Seoul.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends a yearly limit of 1 millisievert for the general public.

However, the worldwide average annual dose from natural background radiation is about 2.4 millisieverts, UN report has said.

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