Fukushima Farmer Says What It Is Like To Reap A Poison Harvest

I found this really moving.

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  • A transcript

    Farmer 1: I am still engaged in agriculture full time in Fukushima. I live in Sukagawa.

    Last year, cesium exceeding 100 Bq was detected in the brown rice produced there. First case nationwide.

    As a result, decontamination of the rice fields started. But please keep this in mind. Day in, day out, we are working in the field without knowing the level of soil contamination.

    I hope you heard me. I am not talking about the radiation readings in the air!

    In my district, farmers we also mobilized to do the decontamination work in the rice fields. Myself included.

    Do you understand the meaning of “de” in the word “decontamination”? We are just tilling deeply and spreading the radiation thinly. We are not removing the contamination. No wonder that the radiation level has not gone down!

    We “decontaminated” the rice field. We measured the radioactivity in the air. It has not gone down at all. We have not removed the contaminated soil. Of course not!

    The environment has not changed at all two years after the explosions.

    The guidelines say we cannot use farm materials such as coverings that are contaminated. But we have no way of measuring the radiation level for those. So we have to replace them with new ones. Are you going to do something about this?

    Please don’t take lightly what we farmers are going through. We grow food. We eat safe and clean food ourselves. And we supply them to our consumers.

    But there is no longer the joy in harvesting our produce.

    The farm produce from Fukushima is cheaper than that from other areas. Do you think we can keep our motivation going, knowing that in advance, and expecting the compensation payment for the loss? How do we keep going?

    There is one more thing. In Fukushima, all farm produce must be checked for the cesium level prior to shipping. The current government limit is 100 Bq.

    The farmers know how many Bq of cesium their produce contains. We can ship them if the reading is lower than 100.

    But I would not dare eat them myself.

    The consumers assume there is no radiation in the food they buy. What do you say about this? We farmers know better. We feel guilty about growing it and selling it. We won’t eat it ourselves, but we sell it.

    I want to hear what you think about this. I would like you to respond to my question.


    So far we have talked about what is going on in Sukugawa. Let me also bring in the situation in Tamono District in Soma City.


    Farmer 2: Tamano District is located in the western part of the city. The radiation readings in Tamano are almost as high as in Iitate. In the woods, you find spots with 7 to 10 micro Sv/hour everywhere.

    The decontamination is being done in limited areas. But there are so many cases that the areas outside the crop fields are not measured, unlike the rice farmers.

    The people are carrying on their lives in this highly contaminated area, and if they choose to evacuate they are expected to do so without any assistance. The economic support is not sufficient, and the compensation for the psychological damage is not sufficient. It’s a double suffering.

    There remain may places like that which were excluded from the government assistance. There are a great number of people who were left out by the border lines that the government and TEPCO drew. So please don’t ignore our plea.

    Please take the facts into your hearts so that you will make the help work.

    I want to go back to the question of food contamination. Would you feed your children the food with less than 100 Bq? How about 50 Bq? Simpler measuring equipment would not detect cesium less than 10 Bq. Not many place can afford the machine with high precision.

    The equipment which can measure all of the alpha, beta, gamma rays are too expensive. usually only gamma rays are measured. Therefore, only cesium.

    Do you think the consumers really believe ND (Not detected) and put the food in their mouth? No, they won’t eat it. They do know that for a fact.

    I want to put this question to you and Mr. Nishida, and you from the Ministry of Education. Would you want to feed your own children the food with 10 Bq, since it is much lower than 100 Bq, and because someone says it is safe? Would you want to eat it yourself?

    You choose to eat it?! I commend you for your willingness to sacrifice yourself. But I bet you won’t allow your children to eat them. Isn’t that so?

    Mr.Nishida, you must be about the same age as me. You may be prepared to die to do your part. But I don’t believe you will force that onto your own children.

    That is how we respond to the risk of radiation.

    Mr. Sudo, you seem to be carefree, but you would also not want your children to live in a contaminated area and eat contaminated food. Do you? This is THE issue the government must address. But you are avoiding the real issue.

    The government claims that it is within allowance level, but TEPCO doesn’t collect data. You have heard this before, and you have seen this happen, but the government, who has the authority to restrict the shipment of agricultural products, refused to take any actions. There is nothing more disappointing and discouraging!

    Earlier I asked where your dignity went. I respect you as a fellow human being. I can understand that you need to protect your job and position. But you are crossing the lines that should not be crossed. Where is your pride!

    You don’t want your children to eat contaminated food. Nobody wishes that. You are no exception. If you are single, you will have children some day. You would want to keep your children away from the danger of radiation. You ought to translate such honest wishes into national policies.

    How deplorable that public servants like yourselves behave this way!

    If you are risking someone else’s life, you should be prepared to risk your own. That is the pride expected of a human being.


    Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry – I understand that the public sees our responses inadequate. But compensation payments are meant to fill that type of gap.

    The question was raised on whether we want to eat the food from Fukushima. Just to give you an example, the rice from Fukushima was made available for sale at the Ministry. I did buy some and my family ate it. If we can diminish the harmful rumor about Fukushima produce this way, I do believe we can move forward.

    We will properly treat safe food as safe and dangerous food as dangerous. But what is safe is safe.

    We would like to continue to focus on improving the perception of the public toward farm produce from Fukushima. This is not the issue that has to do with the compensation payments alone. In the agricultural policy managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, it is a priority to dispel the harmful rumor about Fukushima produce.

    As I said many times, the government will continue to support the people of Fukushima by helping to tackle this harmful rumor.


    Farmer 3 – Can I say something about this?

    You keep saying “harmful rumor” and “harmful rumor.” It is not a rumor. Do you understand? If it is simply a rumor, there would not be a basis for it.

    Our farm has been seriously contaminated. As bad as thousands of Bq. I measured my own land. It is there.

    If you are saying ti is a bad rumor, please, please get rid of that contamination from my land. Take it all away.

    I am not saying these things because we can’t make money. You know that, Mr. Sudo. I have told you many times. You say the government is paying for the damage. Why don’t you ask Mr. Nishida what’s not being compensated. There are losses that are not being compensated. There is a variety of produce that people just won’t buy. You should make your staff understand that.

    You are not doing your job.

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