Reactionary Japan Govt Just Can’t Seem To Get
In Front Of Radiation Crisis
Of course, it is most likely because the government is
not focused on the effects of radiation on the people and
haven’t been since the Fukushima Daiichi facility went into
meltdown. It has been more concerned with the projecting
the perception that the event has been contained to a small
portion of Japan and that the economic impact of that area
will not affect the Japanese economy.
That was the strategy that kept many people in their
homes in the early days of the crisis, homes which were
subsequently included in an enlarged evacuation zone. It
was the same strategy that forced the reopening of schools
in areas with high readings of radiation where children were
simply told to wear long-sleeve shirts and don’t go outside.
And it was the same strategy that prompted a rather bizarre
meeting by Japan’s Kan, China’s Wen, and South Korea’s Lee
in which they all consumed vegetables grown in the region.
And it was the same strategy that led to the child-like
testing policy of assuming no contamination of food products
from the area is three consecutive tests showed no radiation
(one can also assume how many tests were made on most
This past weeks revelation of
hundreds of radioactive beef cattle being slaughtered
and sold throughout Japan shows that this strategy has not
The 411 cattle, from the same prefecture as the stricken
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, were sent to meat
processing centres in six other regions including Tokyo
between March 28 and July 6, prefecutural officials said.
The food scare started a week ago when meat contaminated
with radiation from 11 cows at a farm just outside the 20km
Fukushima nuclear no-go zone was reported to have been moved
around the country and probably eaten.
On Sunday, Japanese media reported that meat from another
132 cattle that ate straw tainted with high levels of
radioactive caesium are known to have been shipped to 36 of
Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Some supermarkets in the capital Tokyo have put up signs
warning about radioactive beef.
On Monday, the
government admitted that it screwed up.
Officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Ministry have admitted they did not consider the possibility
of cattle ingesting straw contaminated by radioactive
substances emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power
“This is nothing less than a colossal blunder by our
ministry. It was beyond our
expectations that straw would become a source of radioactive
contamination,” a ministry official said.
Yeah, everybody knows that straw does not absorb
radiation like everything else on the planet. And just to
show how much more the common man knows about things than
the over-thinking bureaucrats, we offer this interesting
In late April, the ministry set new regulations on
livestock feed, stipulating that all feed must contain less
than 300 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram.
However, the ministry failed to communicate this order to
rice farmers who sell straw to livestock farmers.
Rice straw, which contains very little vitamin A, is
unsuitable as a principle nutrition source for livestock.
However, feeding it to beef cattle promotes the development
of marbled fat, which is favored by many consumers. For this
reason, many livestock farmers feed rice straw to cattle for
several months prior to the animals being shipped to market.
Rice straw is generally reaped in autumn and then stored
in warehouses, to protect it from the winter elements. “So
we thought rice straw wouldn’t have been affected by
radioactive substances [leaked from the plant],” a senior
agriculture ministry official said.
However, a man who works
in the livestock industry in Fukushima Prefecture said it is
“common knowledge” that in areas with little snowfall, some
farmers leave straw in the open air in winter to dry.
“If grass is
contaminated with radioactive substances, so is straw. Is
that so difficult to figure out?” said a 33-year-old owner
of a butcher shop in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture.
The butcher used to sell top-grade beef from the Tohoku
region at his shop, but since the nuclear accident sells
only beef produced in western Japan.
“Until the government
takes more effective action against this problem, I’ll be
scared to sell [Tohoku] beef at my shop,” he said.
But, we are quite sure this butcher did not graduate from
Tokyo University so his uneducated opinion was not
solicited. And besides…he’s a butcher. He doesn’t
understand the intricate machinations of the bureaucracy
which has to balance the concerns of politicians, banks, the
farm lobby, the food distributors, wholesalers, and the
retailers to find the right policy.
Oh…we forgot the health of the Japanese people. Maybe
the bureaucrats considered this somewhere along the line.
Only it is becoming more and more obvious that this concern
is not on the top of their list.
But this is why the government is always reactive and not
proactive. It does not have health concerns in mind when it
draws up its policy measures. Instead, it takes modest
steps knowing that it is easier to apologize to the Japanese
people after problems occur than explain to the business
interests why more restrictive measures should be taken to
prevent problems from occurring in the first place, based on
the logic that it is better to apologize afterward than to
seek permission beforehand.
On April 18, the agriculture ministry ordered livestock
farmers near the Fukushima No. 1 plant to have their cattle
checked for radioactivity before shipment.
Experts soon voiced concerns about the value of the
inspections, pointing out that while they may prevent
workers at meat-processing plants from being exposed to
radioactive substances, they do not measure the amount of
radioactive substances absorbed internally by the cattle.
The checks involved electronically measuring the amount
of radioactive material on the surface of the animals’
bodies. Shipment is allowed
if the detected radioactive emissions are below 100,000
counts per minute. The same amount of radioactive material
on a human would require that person to undergo full-body
So far, about 12,000
cattle have been subjected to the checks, and all have
passed, the agriculture ministry said.
The ministry has asked livestock farmers to report the
details of feed and water given to their cattle. But it is
known that at least one farmer, who is based in Minami-Soma
and shipped cattle contaminated with radioactive substances
in excess of the provisional limit, gave an inaccurate
report, the ministry said.
The contamination of beef from that farmer’s cattle was
discovered July 8.
The senior agricultural ministry official said: “We’ve
sought to secure the safety of beef by managing the
processes by which livestock farmers raise their animals.
However, from the
standpoint of protecting consumers, maybe we should have
directly checked the safety of the meat.“
Brilliant deduction. He must have talked to the butcher.
Widespread problems from Fukushima, despite the
assurances of the government will continue for months, if
not years. The government should base their policies on
this assumption now in order to protect the society. It
would be better for the people to be pleasantly surprised
that the measures were not necessary than constantly worried
that they live in danger.