It’s good to see The Japan Times covering the issue of radiation in food. Tomoko Otake’s Sept. 20 article, “Hold the cesium: ways to reduce radiation in your diet,” contained useful information, but I would take issue with one point.
Otake writes that “since the disaster struck, the government has been monitoring radiation levels of food from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures.” This is not entirely correct: The national government is not monitoring food; it has instructed local authorities to do so. The monitoring is not mandatory.
Furthermore, an Aug. 25 article in The Japan Times (“Officials to inspect agricultural products without advance notice”) indicated that one of six communities in affected regions had not done any monitoring whatsoever on produce being shipped to market! The article stated, “Such checks are usually done by municipalities, but they are under no legal obligation to perform them.”
German TV ZDF has done an excellent piece showing just how overwhelmed the prefectural testing centers are, and how some farmers, with no direction from the government, have had to pay to get their soil tested, often with alarming results. The video is viewable, with Japanese and English subtitles, on YouTube (search: German TV ZDF — Frontal21 Fukushima — English and Japanese).
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.