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Fukushima rice to go on sale in UK for first time since 2011 nuclear crisis
R ice from Japan’s Fukushima region will go on sale in London next month for the first time since the 2011 nuclear crisis.
The UK will become the third nation – after Singapore and Malaysia – to commercially import rice from Fukushima since the earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown in March 2011.
The Fukushima rice, called Ten no Tsubu, will undergo radiation testing and obtain official certification confirming its safety before going on sale in shops in the UK.
The first import will consist of 1.9 tonnes of rice sent to London by the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (NFACA), a farmers’ group.
The rice will be distributed through TK Trading, the UK based import company, to retail shops and wholesalers across London, as well as eateries including Tokimeite, a high-end new Japanese restaurant in Bond Street.
The move aims to help revitalise the region’s agriculture industry, which was devastated by the 2011 disaster, as well as highlight the safety of food from the region, according to Seiichi Niizuma, general PR manager at NFACA, known as Zen-Noh in Japan.
“We would like to expand Japanese rice exports not only to the UK but also to the world, by enabling Japanese rice to be tasted in the UK,” he told the Telegraph.
F armers in Fukushima - a region once famed for its agricultural fare, from peaches to rice - were hit hard by the March 2011 nuclear disaster, with a string of food contamination scares resulting in import bans around the world.
While the EU has started to phase out its ban on Fukushima foods, with some fruit imports permitted since January, the region is still struggling with its global reputation as a region associated with a nuclear disaster.
The new UK import project came about as a result of the efforts of Yoshio Mitsuyama, a London representative of the Fukushima Prefectural Association, who reportedly consulted Zen-Noh a few years ago in relation to selling local food products in Europe.
The access road at the compound of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is flooded in 2011 as a tsunami hit the facility following a massive earthquake Credit: AP
H e initially tested the waters in the UK by successfully selling small quantities of Fukushima products, such as peaches, rice and apple juice, at the annual Japan Matsuri festival held in Trafalgar Square.
The first commercial import of Fukushima rice to Europe next month will mark a significant step forward for farmers in the region in terms of their recovery, according to Mr Mitsuyama.
“Fukushima farmers have been devastated since March 11, 2011, as their products could not be sold anywhere due to bad rumours and their lives were almost destroyed,” he said.
“It is a breakthrough that Fukushima rice and other products have been proven to be safe by EU and will start being sold in London next month.”