You can click here to see a story on some of the other terrible nuclear disasters… I had never even heard of the British one in the 1950s - HERE.
Now, nearly seven years later, Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) is no longer just a radioactive dead zone - it never was, but did have its major hot spots where radiation had penetrated the ground, water and air.
Recovery? Sure… in 2017, the area exported some 50 tons of peaches - which was a 70 percent increase from BEFORE the incident at the Dai-ichi nuclear power generating facility owned by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany).
Even rice… the staple grain of Japan that the Japanese can eat as part of their breakfast, lunch and dinner reached 100 tons in export… not quite at the pre-accident level… but hopefully surpassing it in 2018.
When the radioactivity of the nuclear facility was spilling into the environment in the spring of 2011, the rest of the world was quick to close off its purchases of Japanese-made products such as produce, meats, fish - heck, everything from Japan for fears of radioactive good being passed along.
Peaches, for example, were a huge export to Hong Kong and Taiwan… but after the disaster, food exports were banned to these countries.
But was it really that much of a concern?
Sure… if food products were coming from within the radiation zone inwards of 30 kilometers away from the the reactor… sure… but it didn’t matter to other countries who labeled all of Japan for the failures with that part of Fukushima.
TEPCO, whether it realized it or not, greatly affected the entire country’s economic structure due to its failures with Dai-ichi.
According to one farmer Suzuki Susumu (the surname of Suzuki is akin to our Smith and Jones) has a peach farm a mere 65 kilometers away from the nuclear plant… outside of the danger zone in 2011.
Although the radiation levels he detected at his farm in 2011 were within the Japan national limits, he still went out and washed his trees with a high-pressure washer - repeatedly. Better safe than sorry.
One year later, very little radiation was detected on his peach trees.
To combat the stigma of being the country with the radioactive peaches, the local area performed due diligence with safety checks, had overseas buyers observe cultivation and inspection methods while holding a number of food tasting events. As a result, the prefecture was able to ship peaches to Thailand in fiscal 2012. It was only one ton, but it was Fukushima’s first export since the accident.
The government of Fukushima Prefecture even went so far as to issue a pamphlet written in English and whatever the language is in China. Wait… let me look it up…
Okay… the main written language of China is Chinese (中文), which is the written form of the Mandarin language that is spoken by the so-called educated people of Beijing. I knew it wasn’t a cut-and-dried an answer.
Anyhow… they issued a pamphlet which extolled how tasty and no-radioactive its peaches were… and eventually sales were allowed back in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Things aren’t all rosy, however, as Hong Kong and Taiwan continue their embargo on Fukushima-grown peaches (though not the rest of Japan).
As for rice, Fukushima began shipping it to Singapore in 2014… a whole 0.3 tons… or 600 pounds (~272.2 kilograms)… ya gotta start somewhere…
While Britain had not been a destination pre-disaster, by 2016 it was taking in 22.3 tons of Japanese rice grown in Fukushima…. enough to put a healthy glow on the cheeks of many a Brit.
What… too soon? Sorry.
While not calculated yet, 2017 totals are expected to reach 100 tons… just below the pre-disaster number of 108 tons in 2010.
Hong Kong hasn’t come back on Fukushima-grown rice. While there is no embargo by Hong Kong, neither is it falling off its seat to purchase any, as it did continue to purchase rice from Japan’s other prefectures… just not Fukushima rice.
And, because I ain't afraid of no radiation and would gladly run into a radioactive zone if I heard a reactor exploding, allow me to present the song Peaches, by the musical stylings of The Presidents Of The United States Of America: