Fukushima farmers struggle to overcome stigma six years after nuclear disaster

World Today

Fukushima 3

Japan marks six years since the Fukushima disaster. The meltdown triggered by an earthquake and tsunami forced about 100,000 people from their homes–nearly 13 percent of them have decided to return, some willingly and some without a choice.

CGTN’s Terrence Terashima filed this report.

A winter is almost over in this serene Japanese countryside.

One can see signs of plum and cherry buds, flowers the Japanese loves so much, ready to bloom.

But for farmers in Fukushima, harsh conditions will likely to continue as they struggle to recover from the nuclear accident six years ago.

Save those in the coastal areas damaged by the tsunami, and areas still restricted with high levels of radiation, many farmers have recovered, producing a variety of products.

However, many people are still reluctant to sell or buy Fukushima products, due to concerns of residual radiation in the food, even those that have cleared thorough radiation inspection.

Chikako Yaginuma sells fruits, vegetables, and various Fukushima products every week in numerous parts of Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures. Hoping to spread awareness of safe Fukushima produce and remove misunderstanding.

“We are seeing slow improvements in vegetables, but those that have decided to avoid food products from Fukushima after the accident still are reluctant to buy them. We are hoping they will change their minds,” said Chikako Yaginuma.

According to the Fukushima government, the price of rice and beef are still five to ten percent lower than the national average.

Fukushima is the second largest producer of peaches in Japan, but its price is 23 percent lower than average.

Central and district governments are putting all efforts to convince people of the safety of Fukushima Products.

But a survey showed that 16.6 percent are still reluctant to buy any produce from Fukushima.

The agriculture production in Fukushima is at about 80 percent of what it used to be, prior to the disasters.

Experts say it will take a decade for the industry and the local economy to recover.

But local residents will not feel comfortable until the nuclear reactors have been decommissioned safely.