Organizers cancel Bangkok event to promote Fukushima fish after groups voice safety concerns

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A Thai event to promote fish from Fukushima Prefecture was canceled after locals and citizens’ groups raised safety concerns, despite the fact no radioactive material was found in the fish, officials from the prefecture confirmed Wednesday.

The event, hosted by local trading companies to promote flounder caught in waters off Fukushima, was scheduled to be held at several Japanese restaurants in Bangkok between March 10 and 31. The hosts, however, decided to call it off after consumers and environmental groups voiced their concerns — many through social media — saying it’s not safe to eat Fukushima fish.

The cancellation of the event in Thailand — the first country to resume imports of Fukushima fish — underscores the difficulty of brushing off the radiation stigma attached to the prefecture’s products following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Since 2015, no marine products caught in waters off Fukushima have been found to contain cesium beyond 100 becquerels per kilogram, the state-set limit for food, according to the Fukushima Prefectural Government. The Thai government also said its screening test has found no radioactive material from the flounder, according to media reports.

Around 130 kg of Fukushima fish has been shipped to Thailand since March 1, according to the prefecture. Fukushima initially hoped to ship 1 ton of marine products to Thailand by the end of March, but the plan has effectively been halted.

Following news of the cancellation, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said “it was regrettable,” especially given the fact that the product also passed the Thai government’s safety inspection.

“We will continue our efforts to confirm the safety of Fukushima produce, and to work on exporting marine produce,” Uchibori said in a written comment.

Fukushima Prefecture has been pouring its efforts into resuming the export of its products over the past few years, holding events overseas to promote its safety and quality. According to the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, Thailand lifted a ban on produce from Fukushima in May 2015 and has imported peaches and rice from the prefecture since then.

Thailand topped the list for Fukushima peach imports two years in a row, data from the prefecture showed.