More than five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, efforts by local farmers to regain consumer trust in their produce are finally paying off, with apples grown in the city of Fukushima chosen to be used in the annual World Cocktail Championships, which kicks off on Tuesday in Tokyo.
During the contest, which will run through Thursday at the Imperial Hotel, Fukushima-grown apples will be used in the fruit-cutting event scheduled for Wednesday. Several varieties of fruit will be used in the competition, but for apples, only those from Fukushima will be used.
The planned appearance of apples from the disaster-hit prefecture is due to a joint effort by the Fukushima Fruit Thanks Project, a group of fruit farmers from the northern region of the prefecture and Yoshikazu Suda, a bartender in Tokyo’s Ginza district who also hails from the prefecture.
Suda, who runs the Ginza Zenith bar, is from the city of Date. Since the triple-meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Suda has been working in cooperation with the farmers group to promote produce from the area.
As an executive director of the Nippon Bartenders Association and a director of a Ginza bar association, Suda saw the upcoming world championships as a great way to help promote fruit from the prefecture, which have experienced poor sales due to ongoing fears over radiation contamination.
Knowing the superior quality of Fukushima-grown fruit, Suda pitched the use of apples grown in the city of Fukushima for the competition.
“I’d be happy if using apples this time would be one way to help the reconstruction of my hometown,” Suda said.
During the competition, apples grown by Chusaku Anzai, who operates a fruit farm in the city of Fukushima, will be used.
“I want to convey the greatness of Fukushima fruit to bartenders from around the world,” said Anzai, 67, who is also vice chair of the farmers group.
To prepare for shipping, Anzai meticulously checked the condition of each apple at his farm earlier this month.
Some 500 bartenders from 53 countries will gather in Tokyo to take part in the championships, which will be held in Japan for the first time in 20 years.
Fukushima Mayor Kaoru Kobayashi has high hopes for the event and sees it as a chance to tout Fukushima as one of the nation’s top fruit producers.
“It’ll be a great opportunity to show the charm of Fukushima,” Kobayashi said.
This section, appearing every third Monday, focuses on topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on Oct. 5.