Posts Tagged ‘natural goods’

Asahi Shimbun Japanese version reported that Yamada, the governor of Kyoto prefecture paid a secret visit to the small town of Kyotamba on March 28, in order to ask its mayor to accept incinerated radioactive waste and dispose of it, on the basis that the incinerator output would be better monitored there and that Kyotamba has 9 hectares of land as well as a river where to dump radioactive ashes. The mayor replied that he would think about the proposal positively, which is a way to acknowledge agreement provided that the brown envelope is fat enough.

Actual incineration would take place in undisclosed facilities in Kyoto prefecture, such as in Maizuru, Kyoto and Kameoka. Governor Yamada makes no secret about his plan to accept radioactive waste for incineration, but every move he makes towards its implementation is undemocratic and behind the scenes, a strategy also used by Goshi Hosono, the Minister of Environment who is pushing for nationwide spread of radioactive contamination.  (Updated on 2012/04/10)

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The last nuclear power plant reactor in Kyushu was taken off-line towards the end of December 2011, leaving the Japanese southern island free of nuclear produced-electricity. Off-line reactors are not necessarily safe in case of earthquake, tsunami or human error, all of which are far too common in Japan to allow such utilities to be but ticking bombs.

It is however a first step towards a nuclear-free island, which produces most of the domestic food, including beef (the famous so-called “Kobe beef” is raised in Miyazaki, Kyushu) now that Hokkaido is contaminated. Besides nuclear fallout, the town of Tomakomai in Hokkaido decided to incinerate nuclear waste against the will of citizens, as reported in Tomakomai Minpo on 2011 December 8. The translated and commented article is available on Ex-SKF blog here. Tomakomai is located on the southern shore, about 50 km / 30 miles away from Sapporo, with a mostly residential / industrial plain between these cities (agricultural products come mainly from Tokachi plain on the east coast which has been under nuclear fallout most of spring and summer 2011).

Politicians and executives will likely get away with public opinion manipulation and other scandals in Kyushu as articles below show: a mere salary cut whereas in some more democratic countries, they might have been jailed. Besides, the Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper cancelled the publication of an anti-nuclear book due to pression from the same utility, which shows that public opinion manipulation is deeply rooted in Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Kyushu political institutions. Indeed, Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa is assured to get a highly paid sinecure in Kyushu Electric Power Co. after he “retires”.

Kyushu is the last large clean food producer in Japan and it has not accepted any nuclear waste for incineration yet: it may as well become the future of Japan.

Hereafter are reproduced several articles found in Japanese news in December 2011, as original articles might become unavailable soon: (more…)

Safe food is getting scarcer in Japan, even out of the no man’s land, in what I call the monitored land. Surviving in Japan supposes boycotting any food from areas northeastern of Nagoya included and of course any sea product from the North Pacific Ocean. This strict rule makes shopping complicated but nowhere as eating out. The end of the year brings a new threat in traditional food gifts that Japanese offer, i.e. “oseibo” (in Japanese 「お歳暮」. It is hard to be always on one’s guard and make rational choices as to what to eat and it is socially a burden when one constantly has to ask for the source of ingredients of any food in shops and restaurants. Furthermore, when the temptation is from one’s relatives and friends, it is almost impossible for anyone to resist and discard the gift, like Snow White could not decline the shiny red apple for the gentle old, poor woman who actually was intent on killing her.

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Butter in Japan mainly comes from its northern island Hokkaido, along with many dairy products such as milk, which is at the center of the latest radioactive food scandal.

The east coast of Hokkaido was visited by radioactive fallout from Fukushima most Spring and Summer days. Fishermen bring in their catch from radioactive Pacific Ocean close to Fukushima so that fish can be sold nationwide as products “from Hokkaido”. It is rumored to arrive at night in Nagoya for distribution throughout Japan. Domestic fish has become a major public health hazard in Japan and is exported worldwide.

There might be some safe areas left in Hokkaido but the prefecture lost all my trust for allowing various food scams to support contaminated regions. Besides it’s impossible to tell where in Hokkaido butter comes from, much less which milk and cream were used as ingredients.

A popular butter in Japan is the Snow Brand Hokkaido Butter, from the company that poisoned 15000 Japanese in 2000 and secretly recycled old milk to make other products – not to be trusted in these trying times. (more…)

A lot of the rationale of supporters of non-evacuating Tokyo seems to revolve around the notion of hotspots. Hotspots are limited areas in which ground radiation spikes up compared to the surroundings. Although radiation is not negligible in Tokyo, some argue that it is even higher in similar cities where there hasn’t been any known nuclear incident, such as Hong Kong with more than 0.3 uSv/h at 1m above ground. Tokyo hotspots detected in Setagaya, around the Imperial Palace, etc. were not very satisfactorily explained in the news by the supposed presence of radium bottles left over (same explanation used several times).

Tokyo cityscape changes continually and buildings may disappear suddenly as one visits a street after a few years. Besides construction work and demolitions, low to medium intensity earthquakes regularly shake the city and cause shelves, TV sets, etc. to fall and smash on floors. It is difficult to imagine radium bottles lying around for 50 years untouched in these ever-moving conditions. Such bold statements from the government were largely accepted by the population who is eager to cling to any reassuring explanation for their hotspots.

Hotspots are perceived to be like rotten apples in an otherwise healthy basket, singularities which statisticians can dismiss in order to focus on the average radiation environment. Scarcity of hotspots seem to support this view, however monitoring is imperfect and reporting even worse.

Shortly after March eleven, a green tea grower from Shizuoka prefecture (south-west of Tokyo and near the Mount Fuji) reported that his tea was radiation-hot after he got it analyzed on a voluntary basis (Cf. link to New York Times story in Analysis Of Japanese Government Radiation Spread Report on SurvivalJapan). Panic followed among green tea growers who made sure that none of them would ever carry their tea leaves to a laboratory again. This is anecdotal but it illustrates how hotspots are discovered and buried in Japan. Therefore hotspots tend to seem isolated whereas, if the population wanted to seriously investigate, there might be more rotten apples.

Here is another anecdote: in the farming village from where I buy local vegetables and rice, I proposed a foreign friend of mine who grows organic food there to make some radioactivity measures – and in order to make it significant, to get organized with the local Japanese community and offer to check out their fields and rice paddies too. My friend replied that such discussions had already taken place and that the consensus was that, although it would nice to know that the soil is safe, it would have a devastating effect with commercial consequences, should we find anything unusual. I discreetly made a measurement there which showed it was alright (0.125 uSv/h with Inspector Alert right next to the wet, black soil) and told my friend about it. From reading the news and hearing people talks, I am convinced this is a relevant example of farmers’ attitude with respect to radiation monitoring nationwide – and hence the explanation of the scarcity of reported hotspots.

Hotspots monitoring in Japan is like searching for a sick tree at the edge of a forest, cutting the tree down and never look in this place again. (more…)

The Beer In Japan post on SurvivalJapan offered some advice on how to choose food products with minimal radiation exposure risk in an environment devoid of reliable information source, with beer as an example. Three months ago, my post titled Safer Food Quest warned about such Tokyo-headquartered dairy product companies as Meiji, which distributes milk of course, but also chocolate snacks, ice cream, etc. Warning eventually became a scandal – one in many to come in Japan criminal food industry – as reported by Bloomberg today (read the article below).

Bloomberg – Cesium in Meiji Milk Powder Spurs Recall Amid Radiation Threat

By Kanoko Matsuyama, Dec. 6

Radioactive cesium was found in milk powder made by a Meiji Holdings Co. unit, Kyodo News said, causing the shares to fall the most in eight months and raising concern that nuclear radiation is contaminating baby food.

Meiji, Japan’s largest supplier of infant formula, is voluntarily recalling 400,000 cans of its “Meiji Step” brand product, which may have been contaminated by radiation leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant, Kyodo said today. Affected cans have 2012 expiration dates of Oct. 4, Oct. 21, Oct. 22. and Oct. 24, it said.

Levels of cesium found in the 850-gram cans of baby milk powder are within safe limits and pose no health risk, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The product may have been contaminated by cesium in the air, it said. The product was made in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo , it said.

Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can cause leukemia and other cancers, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association. Japanese consumers have spurned certain food products, including beef, after evidence that fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s nuclear plant, crippled in the March 11 earthquake, entered the food chain.

Meiji fell as much as 13 percent in Tokyo trading, ending trading down 9.7 percent at a 30-month low of 3,020 yen. Rivals Morinaga Milk Industry Co. plunged 3.5 percent to a three-year low of 275 yen and Megmilk Snow Brand Co. declined 3.6 percent.

Cesium Traces

Traces of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were first detected in the Meiji milk product on Dec. 3 and were found again on Dec. 4, the company said today.

In a nuclear accident, radioactive isotopes including iodine-131 and cesium-137, which are normally contained inside the fuel rods, may be released into the atmosphere as gases or particulates if the rods are damaged. These can be inhaled or ingested through contaminated food or water. Children are especially susceptible to radiation poisoning from iodine, which can accumulate in the thyroid and cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Cesium-137 that enters the body is distributed throughout the soft tissues, especially in muscle. Cesium-137 is eliminated faster from the body than other radionuclides, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at kmatsuyama2@bloomberg.net .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

Shoppers are becoming aware as the apparition of milk with certified unique origin from places out of the no man’s land suggest. For instance, milk ″from Hyogo prefecture only″ is now available in some supermarkets  (see picture below with red box added to mark this mention in Japanese). Previously, tainted Hokkaido milk was difficult to avoid – although the northern island east coast is regularly visited by plumes from Fukushima. Besides, milk origin is ambiguously labelled ″packaged in″ any given factories without any details about the actual origin of the milk itself, hence discreetly giving decision power over whether companies mixed healthy milk with radioactive waste. Of course, there isn’t any guarantee that milk marketed as originating from the monitored land does not come from cows just imported from the no man’s land. Premium Kobe beef, for instance, only needs to be raised one year in that crowded region to be legally labelled and sold and such – cows are generally raised in greener and cheaper places such as Miyazaki (Kyushu)or Ishigaki (Okinawa) and then sent to Kobe. Although moving is costly, the cost can be passed on more easily on Kobe beef eaters than on Hyogo milk drinkers, hence providing a relative security for the latter ones. However the price of safe milk will rise with along with its increasing scarcity and it may reach a level where moving “hot” cows for their milk make economic sense on the very short-term. Food industrials should take notice with the example of milk packers that it damages their image, equity and bottom line very rapidly though. (more…)

Tourists are well advised to avoid altogether Tokyo and the whole north-east of Japan, although visiting Osaka – Kyoto – Nara area, i.e. Kansai, and south-east remain safe as of today, provided extreme caution is paid to food origin. This can prove tricky as tourists usually eat out and Japanese cuisine, one of the best in the world, takes a large place in the tourist experience. However, the authorities’ mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis brought down a culinary disaster with half of the country’s fresh produce turned into nuclear waste distributed nationwide, and TEPCO managed to pollute the Pacific Ocean to such an extent that anything from it, including of course sushi, should be out of anyone’s diet whose life expectancy is higher than the next five years. I highly recommend renting a place with a kitchen and making your own food with utmost care to labelling. Most of all, leave your children at home. If visiting Japan still makes sense to you and you are taking all necessary precautions, keep in mind that your return flight will serve food from Japan with “unknown” origin on board, even if you are flying with a foreign airline. I strongly advise that you take your own food on-board whenever possible and complain to your airline about putting their flying staff and passengers at risk. If you think this is an exaggeration, picture yourself leaving Minsk just seven months after Chernobyl disaster contaminated the whole Belarus and being served local food on board.

On a recent trip to Europe flying with Lufthansa, I was amazed that not only Japanese but also the German crew was totally oblivious of this severe threat. After my explanation, a crew member was nice enough to serve me some remnants from their incoming flight, i.e. two frankfurters, four bananas and two oranges and some cheese and black bread which was all I ate during the 12 hour or so flight. Luckily for me, I was the only one to raise the issue this time – or I would have had nothing but orange or tomato juice to sustain me. Back to Japan, I was  concerned while eating spinach, a radio-friendly vegetable, especially as some onigiri rice balls labelled in Japanese were available during the flight and some sushi rolls and cold soba noodles were served with some wasabi / horse-radish paste as entrees – but a crew member reassured me that everything came from Germany notwithstanding. I took his word and try to sleep on it with the help of a Warsteiner beer, which amazed me by the simplicity of its content compared to the incredible brew which is served in Japan under the name “beer” (not even mentioning the various substitutes): malt, hops, yeast and water. Here is a picture of my frugal plate below. If you believe that their high potassium-40 content makes eating 4 bananas as dangerous as Fukushima rice and Ibaraki spinach, you are mistaken and should continue to learn about radioactivity. (more…)

My risk analysis for Japan remains unchanged for October, please refer to Japan Livability Map September 2011 in SurvivalJapan for my definitions of  “no man’s land”, “monitored land” and “nuclear-free land”. I only report on events which affect the latter two – and there has been no news lately. After a summary of the current status to the best of our knowledge, I take the opportunity of the news black hole to offer a more editorial piece with further recommendations for those who choose to stay in Japan, out of the no man’s land.

Status

The reason for the dysfunctional steam condenser which prompted the emergency shutdown of a reactor at the Genkai nuclear plant in Kyushu island ten days ago has still not been disclosed. Genkai encountered issues in the past as most Japanese nuclear plants and is the object of much political controversy and scandal so the reason may never be known by the general public. Officially no radiation was leaked and citizen seem to not make any measurements anymore in Kyushu. The monitored land on the whole is not properly monitored.

The government announced that they will handle the spread and disposal of nuclear waste themselves without disclosing any detail, which is open to any interpretation.

The free circulation of contaminated food is now in full gear, with for instance Fukushima rice declared safe and available in supermarkets all over the country.

Mainstream media now occasionally publish information that used to be available only on blogs and alternative media, the latter focus on the no man’s land.

Editorial and Further Recommendations

1. Improved environment radiation monitoring

The general lack of information and action is a temporary psychological relief but it is also dangerous. Besides previous recommendations about food made in SurvivalJapan (cf. tag “food”), we should monitor radiation on following sites in every prefecture of the monitored land and nuclear-free land:

  • near each incineration plants
  • on sites in the mountains where citizens and businesses alike illegally dump their garbage (old TV sets, stolen bikes, etc. – where all the great Japanese electronics companies products usually end up their life)
  • near sites where construction-related companies and so-called “gumi” (associations) park their trucks in the mountains, usually hidden behind corrugated sheet metal walls like entrenched forts, with or without dogs (careful with these people)
  • at each garbage disposal sites
  • near cement companies (careful again with construction-related workers…)
  • near companies that specialize in construction material recycling (same remark as construction sector)

Lakes and ponds were also always favored to dispose of hazardous material (Lake Geneva in Switzerland is filled with all kinds of weapons, nerve agents, etc., the Baltic Sea is littered with Russian nuclear waste and Biwako lake in Japan is heavily polluted too as a few examples). Streams should also be monitored. As it is difficult to measure radiation in liquids, fresh water fish, shells and algae like aonori should be monitored as to give an indication.

2. Example of unsuspected and widespread food contamination : irradiated seaweed extracts

Besides this constant environmental monitoring which is completely lacking in these regions, radioactivity ingestion risks exists in forms that are not well-known to the general public and which are difficult to avoid (in order to grasp the extent of the issue, read for instance Exa-Becquerel Now In Pacific Ocean ? on SurvivalJapan and related posts). For example, seaweed yields :

  • alginic acid (slimming aids, appetite suppressants, etc.),
  • agar (many Western and Asian desserts alike including delicious Japanese yokan – but also used in dentistry, modelling clay for kids, etc.),
  • carrageenan (desserts, ice cream, cream, milkshakes, sweetened condensed milks, sauces, beer, pâtés and processed meats like ham, etc. fatty foods without fat, toothpaste, fruit gushers, as a excipient in pills / tablets, in soy milk, diet sodas, but also fire fighting foam, shampoo and cosmetic creams, air freshener gels, fabric marbling, shoe polish, pet food, personal lubricants and sexual lubricants, etc.).

Ocean radiation spill has further increased the risk of eating processed food, but also of using cosmetics, etc.

Here is a link to hydrocolloids producers worldwide, among which a few Japanese companies of course, for example :

A positive side of the Japanese nuclear crisis in Japan is that it may have raised the awareness of the multiple dangers of the nuclear industry of course, but also of industrial food, etc.

Conclusion

Although it is of course impossible to avoid every risk, we should remain on our guard and probably purchase and use a Geiger counter anywhere in the world now, as some industrial countries soils are as irradiated as in Japan “monitored land” from wild dumps of uranium extraction waste, nuclear bomb testings, nuclear plant spills and wild waste dumps – including from medical and research facilities, etc. Leaving Japan is not necessarily the solution as it might be worse in your home country without you never having realized it for lack of any large-scale disaster happening yet. Education, positive action and life choices, citizen monitoring are part of the solution to a multi-dimensional problem which is bigger than just a nuclear issue.

Sushi restaurants have popped up in recent years everywhere in the world, with many Chinese restaurants rebranding themselves to ride the trend. Tokyo Tsukiji fish market is the biggest in the world and exports worldwide, with a reported 60,000 employees. Not only this culinary trend threatens complete extinction of dwindling tuna population, but contrarily to popular belief of a Japanese healthy diet, it was a hazardous treat from the start given the level of mercury in big fish like tuna. Most Japanese restaurants worldwide are fake who serve “sushi” with non-Japanese rice to indiscriminate patrons, whereas Japanese rice is so different that it is not a question of detail. Yet, this year and forever on, if you eat genuine sushi, you’ll be ingesting radiation-tainted rice and fish on top of the usual mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. In Japan, expecting mothers are told by doctors that eating raw fish poses no special threat (even before 3-11), contrarily to many other countries. This sushi (and sashimi) death threat applies to anyone, anywhere, from New York city to London.

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Level of radiation dump by TEPCO in the Pacific Ocean is so mind-boggling that a new unit may be needed for nuclear disasters (15 peta-Becquerels just for March 2011). Fish and seafood is contaminated and even the Ocean cannot dilute such a radioactivity source.

An article published 2 weeks ago in Japan Times states that cesium would be back in Japan after 20 to 30 years, promoting a false immediate sense of security. Yet sea radiation maps show the area of dispersion: radiation is here to stay, all along the coast and far reaching – the issue is not the round trip, even if it happens. After more than 90 years, there would still be about 10% of cesium – not to mention all the other radionucleides.

Here is a screenshot of a 3D map of the extent of the radiation in the Pacific Ocean from 2011 July 15. Two months and a half later, it is easy to extrapolate the reach to all of Japan eastern coast save Okinawa and hence absolutely no fish nor seafood from Japan should be eaten at all.

A private consulting firm called ASR also allows viewing it with Google Earth on their site. (more…)