Made-In-Fukushima Products Still Shunned
Amid Radiation Fears
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Protection Devices
Magnetic Field Detector
After struggling for months to repair production lines
hammered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a Saitama
Prefecture-based maker of plastic containers threw in the
The damage had been overcome at its plant in Tamura,
Fukushima Prefecture, one of the company's main production
centers. But it could not cope with consumer fears that its
products, including lunch boxes, were contaminated with
radiation spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power
"It will be difficult to restart the plant until the
nuclear accident comes to an end," said a company official.
However, the nuclear crisis will continue for at least a
few more months. Radiation fears in Japan and overseas show
no signs of abating. And the central government has yet to
act on calls from Fukushima Prefecture to establish
industrial safety standards that could help prevent
"groundless rumors" from devastating the bottom lines of
"Under the current situation, we find it very difficult
to assert that a product is safe if even the slightest trace
of radiation is detected," a Fukushima prefectural
government official said. "We hope the central government
will set clear radiation safety standards (for industrial
products) and take steps to make the safety (of Fukushima
products) known to audiences both at home and abroad."
The Saitama company decided not to retart the plant
because demand has plummeted for its products, especially
those used to contain food. The maker has transferred
operations to other factories and reassigned more than 100
Without any safety guidelines for industrial products,
local companies are trying to reassure customers by
displaying the results of radiation tests on their products.
But their efforts are not paying off.
From March 11, when the nuclear crisis started, to Aug.
24, manufacturers in Fukushima Prefecture lost at least 30
business deals because of radiation fears, the prefectural
association of commerce and industry said.
According to the association's reports, some clients
threatened to scrap business transactions with Fukushima
manufacturers that did not relocate their production
facilities further away from the 30- to 50-kilometer radius
of the stricken nuclear power plant. Others asked
manufacturers to measure radiation levels on the materials
One manufacturer in the prefecture reported that online
orders for its products from the Kanto area around Tokyo
have dried up.
The reluctance to buy products made in the disaster areas
is regarded as a form of "rumor-caused damage," which is
eligible for compensation, according to criteria set by a
government-appointed panel to settle disputes over
compensation for the nuclear accident.
However, the criteria are not legally binding. And the
actual decisions on compensation in such cases are left to
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima
plant, which is already struggling under a mountain of
Since April, Fukushima Prefecture, the Tohoku regional
bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and
the municipal governments of Fukushima, Iwaki and
Minami-Soma, where many factories are located, have been
offering free radiation measuring services. Products
submitted by companies are checked for radiation at six
So far, the products of about 860 companies have been
tested. The companies receive official reports on the
measurements that can be shown to their customers.
There has not been a single case in which the radiation
level on the surface of a product far exceeded the level at
the measurement site, according to the Fukushima prefectural
The Food Sanitation Law sets safety standards concerning
radiation levels for vegetables and other farm products,
seafood and drinking water. The law empowers the government
to suspend shipments of such products or impose restrictions
on their consumption. But there are no such safety standards
for industrial products, and the government cannot ban their
The European Union in April advised its member countries
to carry out radiation checks on industrial products
imported from Japan, according to the Cabinet Office.
But there has been no notable movement to establish
radiation regulations for industrial products in Japan.
The industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety
Agency (NISA) said that setting such safety regulations for
exports, imports and domestic distribution of all kinds of
industrial products would be a herculean task.
"Since industrial products are used in a wide variety of
ways--some are used in contact with human skin while others
are buried under the ground--it would take a lot of time to
set separate standards for each product category," a NISA
Fukushima Prefecture is home to many manufacturers of
such products as information and telecommunications
equipment, electronic parts and auto parts. The prefecture's
shipments of industrial products were worth 4.725 trillion
yen ($61.58 billion) in 2009, the largest figure among the
six prefectures in the Tohoku region, according to the
Shipments from Fukushima Prefecture in 2010 were expected
to grow to around 5.4 trillion yen as local industries were
recovering from the global recession triggered by the
collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.
However, the disaster struck, and the prefecture's
industrial shipment index plunged to 86.1 in June from 100.6