In July 2011, after the nuclear accident, the ‘Rice Traceability Law’ was implemented in Japan. This law very sensibly enforces food supply retailers and restaurant businesses to inform consumers of the production locale of the rice that they provide.
The law had been implemented, in part, since October 2010. Although its introduction was not particularly for the purpose of clarifying production locations as such, it did, by stating plainly on each package, the actual production location, give to the consumer some idea of the radioactive contamination level to be expected.
However, the law does allow rice dealers to label packages simply as “Made in Japan”. As a result of this loophole, in the Fukushima Prefecture some suppliers prefer to put ‘made in Japan’ in the relevant section of their product packages. ‘Made in Hokkaido' would present no sales problem: ‘Made in Fukushima’ might. Again, when rice dealers wish to stress the fact that the rice has come from somewhere remote from Fukushima, they tend to label the specific region; if they wish to hide the fact that the rice has been produced in Fukushima or close to Fukushima, they tend to label it simply ‘made in Japan’. And this, in law, they are free to do.
Since the Fukushima disaster, the restaurant business has been booming, as temporary “Chonger” bachelors – husbands of evacuees, with no family meals to go home to - have increased in the towns. In Fukushima city, there seem to be almost no restaurants at all that are able to guarantee these unfortunate temporary bachelors that their meals have come from ‘radiation free’ products. “Cheer up Fukushima! Produce locally, Eat locally”: the campaign slogan initiated by the Fukushima Local Government has been persuasive, and has effectively suppressed people’s well-founded questions about the safety of local products. In Fukushima, where temporary bachelors, alone and tired after their day’s work cannot help but eat at restaurants, there is nothing they can do but pray for luck.
Takeru Arakida FGF (A Voluntary Group of Lecturers from Fukushima University)