On the 11th March 2011 one of the strongest every recorded earthquakes, the Tōhoku earthquake, caused a devastating tsunami and a subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. It is nine years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the Japanese government is now attempting to encourage farmers to return to the prefecture in order to feed the population of the region and help begin the recovery process of the affected area. However some remain skeptical about returning to the disaster stricken region, despite the government’s $10 billion investment in cleaning up of fallout. But its not just evacuees, food producers and consumers seem reluctant to eat produce from the prefecture, regardless of assurances by scientist and government. So, is it safe to visit and use produce from the prefecture? Is it safe for evacuees to return to Fukushima? After nearly a decade, is Fukushima safe?
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Safe – but fear persists
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While the government maintains the safety of Fukushima there may be some issues over the official levels, and the whole issue has caused a collapse in trust in the government, with food suppliers and consumers neither believing the government take. One returning resident to the region, Mr Hasegawa a local dairy farmer, has been returning to his farm monthly to test radiation levels with his own Geiger counter, due to this very distrust of government. Hasegawa has found that radiation levels are "consistently higher than those from government monitoring posts, and are not falling anywhere near quickly enough, despite the decontamination efforts, to allow him to restart his dairy farm within two years” . Others are dissatisfied with the government responce as some evacuees have had their subsidies taken away and been forced to return, while there is also anger from non-resident and even internationally over the government planning some of the Olympic events in Fukushima.
To accurately measure radiation levels in the prefecture the Japanese government have installed permanent monitoring posts around Fukushima with devices to remotely measure atmospheric levels of radiation live. This data is then compiled by the Fukushima Reconstruction Agency and averages are calculated to develop a multi-band map of affected areas. The risk from radiation is now low for the whole prefecture, and areas that a being repopulated are in green and yellow areas of the radiation map, with radiation levels far below international exposure limits. Notwithstanding, people remain fearful and either way the truth has caused criticism of fear mongering or downplaying the disaster in some way, despite this there are some who “feel the fears of radiation are overblown, and who want to return to their ancestral homes as soon as possible” .