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Reactionary Japan Govt Just Can’t Seem To Get
In Front Of Radiation Crisis

 

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http://www.emfnews.org

07-19-2011

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 products…three).

This past weeks revelation of hundreds of radioactive beef cattle being slaughtered and sold throughout Japan shows that this strategy has not worked.

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 plant.

“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 snippet.

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 decontamination.

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.

 

 

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