The Japanese agricultural industry is still reeling from the March earthquake that damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant. In March, a massive earthquake in the Pacific Ocean triggered a tsunami that destroyed much of the Japanese seaboard, leaving port facilities and coastal towns in ruins. In addition, the Fukushima nuclear plant experienced a meltdown, realizing radioactive pollution into the surrounding countryside.
Earlier this month, Japanese agricultural officials noticed that beef from the Fukushima region was registering higher than legal amounts of radioactive cesium. The discovery of tainted beef has led the Japanese government to halt all beef exports from within sixty kilometers of the Fukushima plant. In addition, the Japanese government has recently announced that it will purchase all tainted beef from afflicted farms.
This recent discovery will almost certainly halt the tentative gains made by the Japanese agricultural market. Over the last several years, Japan, one of the world’s largest food importers, has been pushing to expand its agricultural exports. The nuclear fallout has devastated these exports, which dropped over 16 percent, a loss of about $300 million.
These markets have appeared to be recovering in recent weeks with Canada becoming one of the first nations to resume importing Japanese goods in June. However, the continued discovery of tainted food will almost certainly hinder efforts to lift import restrictions and will most certainly add to the Japanese export markets continued woes.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer