Fukushima exports first batch of rice since meltdowns to Singapore

Kyodo

Exports of Fukushima-grown rice have resumed after being suspended by the nuclear crisis in March 2011 amid soaring concerns about radiation contamination, a national agricultural cooperative said Monday.

A shipment of 300 kg of Koshihikari brand rice produced in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, has arrived in Singapore to be sold at a supermarket Friday after clearing customs, according to the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations.

Fukushima Prefecture was a major producer of rice and had exported some 100 tons to Hong Kong and similar areas before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant.

No rice produced in Fukushima was ever exported after the core meltdowns, the cooperative said.

This year’s exports of agricultural and marine products were valued at ¥284 billion from January to June, up 10.3 percent from a year ago, buoyed by growing popularity of Japanese cuisine. But exports from Fukushima have stayed sluggish amid persistent concern about radioactive contamination from the meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 complex, which was recently linked to rice contamination elsewhere in the prefecture reportedly caused by cleanup efforts at the plant that kicked radiation-tainted dust into the air.

A number of countries and regions still impose restrictions on farm products from the prefecture. Singapore had banned imports of some foods from Fukushima but lifted it in May.