• Kyodo

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Fruit farmers on the Teshima Island, which was once at the center of a waste-dumping scandal, are making progress in reviving the image of their produce.

The disposal of industrial waste removed from the island in the Seto Inland Sea was recently completed after more than a decade of work. The farmers had stopped using Teshima in the name of their mandarin oranges, the island’s main product.

“The history of Teshima mikan (mandarins) began when my father cultivated mountain slopes” in the late 1920s, said Shoji Yamamoto, 84.

Yamamoto remembers being told by wholesalers not to label his produce as Teshima mandarins even though his farm was some 10 km (6 miles) away from the scandal site, where waste was illegally dumped for years.

Although he had to sell his mandarins under the name of nearby Shodoshima Island, he has since been marketing them as Teshima mandarins again and is already winning repeat customers.

Other farmers on the island have branched out into strawberries.

Strawberry farming on the island began in 1999 with support from the government and agricultural cooperatives.

Hajime Tada, 52, cannot forget the complaint he received 15 years ago for selling fruit grown on the island under the Shodoshima name. He now sells his produce as Teshima strawberries.

“We shouldn’t be ashamed of the name Teshima. It’s the islanders’ duty to pass on the history of fighting the threat of that industrial waste,” Tada said.

All decontamination work on the island, including groundwater purification, is scheduled to be completed by March 2023.

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