• Kyodo


A new multilingual website has been launched by the government with the aim of assuaging concerns about Fukushima Prefecture, the area most affected by the 2011 nuclear accident, the world’s worst since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The Fukushima Updates website, available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, offers information about the region’s radiation levels and food safety standards in a bid to reassure people amid lingering concerns about the prefecture being unsafe.

The website was established in early March by the Reconstruction Agency, which oversees recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant.

“Ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. In ongoing efforts to eliminate negative reputation impact, we feel it is important to encourage people to know about Fukushima, eat foods from Fukushima, and come to Fukushima,” the website says.

It includes answers to frequently asked questions, infographics as well as cartoons. The content reflects surveys on Fukushima conducted in several countries prior to the launch that showed most people wanted to learn about food safety and the environment.

The 23 most commonly asked questions include “Can people live in Fukushima?” and “How high are the radiation doses in Fukushima Prefecture?”

The site says “normal life is possible” in most of Fukushima, which has a population of 1.82 million, except for 2.4% of the prefecture where evacuation orders are still in place due to the nuclear disaster.

The Fukushima Updates website is available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. | COURTESY OF RECONSTRUCTION AGENCY / VIA KYODO
The Fukushima Updates website is available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. | COURTESY OF RECONSTRUCTION AGENCY / VIA KYODO

It also says radiation levels in the main cities of Fukushima Prefecture are “no different from those in Tokyo and other major cities around the world,” although they are relatively high in no-go zones.

The safety of local food and fish caught off shore is also emphasized and viewers can compare Japan’s safety standards with those of the European Union and the United States and learn about the recent results of radiation inspections.

It also says the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization have assessed Japan’s monitoring methods as “appropriate.”

“People overseas have a strong impression of the immediate aftereffects of the Fukushima nuclear accident, and there is a gap with the present reality,” an official of the Reconstruction Agency said.

Fifteen countries and regions, including China, South Korea and the United States, still impose import restriction on food from Fukushima Prefecture, although that number is well below the 54 that originally did.

The website also explains about the difference in damage caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident and the Chernobyl disaster, saying the amount of radioactive substances released into the atmosphere was far less in the Japanese crisis, and there has been no impact on people’s health due to radiation exposure.

Both accidents are ranked the highest 7 on an international scale of nuclear crisis severity level — the only two with that classification to date.

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