Press Conference by Chief Cabinet Secretary Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet top page

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 23 at 11:03am, 2011
[Provisional Translation]

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY EDANO First of all, I have a report on the prime ministerfs instructions related to vegetables and raw milk, based on the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness.

Today, in accordance with Article 20, Paragraph 3 of the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, the prime minister instructed the governor of Fukushima Prefecture to place restrictions on shipments and consumption of certain food products. Specifically, in the category of nonbulbous leafy vegetables, the restrictions apply to plants like spinach and komatsuna [Brassica campestris], which grow with spread leaves, rather than in tight bunches. In the category of bulbous leafy vegetables composed of rounded, tight bunches of leaves growing in heads, it includes cabbage; and among plants farmed as flower buds in family Brassicaceae, it includes broccoli and cauliflower, along with turnips. Instructions have been issued to limit shipments of these products for the time being.

The prime minister also issued instructions, effective immediately, to refrain from consuming certain categories of produce from Ibaraki Prefecture. In the category of nonbulbous leafy vegetables other than turnips, these include spinach and komatsuna. In the bulbous leafy vegetable category, they include cabbage. And in the Brassicaceae flower-bud category, they include broccoli and cauliflower.

As of now, all these instructions have been issued for a limited period only, and even if these crops are used in food, they will not cause harm to human health. However, unfortunately, now that the present conditions are projected to continue over a long period of time, as a precautionary measure it is advisable to restrict shipments at an early stage and to reduce consumption of this produce as much as possible. This is the reasoning behind the restrictions on shipment and consumption implemented at this time.

I believe that the Ministry for Health, Labour, and Welfare has issued a detailed report regarding the data for the various vegetable crops I have just mentioned. I want to make clear that even if people continue to consume vegetables containing the highest levels of radiation recorded so far for a period of ten days, they would only be exposed to an amount of radiation approximately equal to half the amount received by a person in the course of a year as background radiation. These levels do not pose any immediate risk to health, and exposure will not have any impact on health in the future. Nevertheless, based on the assumption that current conditions may continue for some time, it is advisable that people limit their consumption where possible for the time being. Accordingly, we have issued instructions to curtail shipments of these crops for the present.

In Fukushima, farmers affiliated with the National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations have voluntarily stopped shipments of all vegetables grown in open air since March 21. However, there is a possibility that crops other than spinach and kakina may have been shipped from other, non-affiliated farms. But as I have said, these crops will not have any effect on the health even if they are accidently served for human consumption. I ask people please to be reassured on this point.

We will continue to strengthen our monitoring of conditions, and will issue appropriate instructions accordingly regarding the geographical extent and range of produce covered by restrictions on consumption and shipping. In order to secure the effectiveness of these restrictions, and to ensure consumer food safety, we will make sure that appropriate compensation is paid for all produce subjected to these restrictions on shipping.

So far I have been speaking of the situation in Fukushima. What I have to say next refers to Ibaraki Prefecture. On March 21, the government issued instructions for restrictions on shipping to be imposed on spinach and kakina from Ibaraki Prefecture. In addition to this, the prime minister today instructed the governor of Ibaraki Prefecture in his capacity as chief of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters to curtail shipments of raw milk and parsley for the time being. As I said earlier, these products pose no threat to the health even if they are consumed, but given a situation in which present conditions are expected to last for some time, we have taken the decision to issue these instructions at an early stage as a precautionary measure.

That is all from me for now.