FISH caught off the coast of Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture will no longer be sold at restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand, after consumer groups protested over possible nuclear contamination.
Thailand was the first country to purchase fish from Fukushima Prefecture on March 1, almost exactly seven years after an earthquake and tsunami which caused a nuclear reactor meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011.
Importers in Thailand had ordered some 100kg of flounder and 10kg of littlemouth to serve at 12 Japanese restaurants in Bangkok. Eleven of the restaurants this week decided to stop serving the fish, however, over fears that it would hurt their business, reported The Mainchi.
Thailand’s Department of Fisheries intercepted around 30kg of the fish and ordered the importer not to distribute it, according to the Bangkok Post. Thai authorities have nevertheless confirmed that Fukushima fish products tested thus far were safe from contamination.
Around 50kg of fish was already consumed at an event on March 2 jointly hosted by the Bangkok based restaurants.
Their subsequent decision to ditch the fish will surely disappoint Japanese fisheries and exporters.
“The export is encouraging news to us local fishermen as we are hoping to resume full-fledged fishing operations soon,” a Fukushima fisherman recently told The Asahi Shimbun. Fish caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture throughout 2017 was only 13 percent of pre-disaster levels.
Some 34,000 people were forced to flee their homes because of the March 11 disaster and have lived outside of the region since 2011. According to the World Nuclear Association, more than 1000 people died throughout the evacuation.
“When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a memorial ceremony on Sunday, as quoted by The Japan Times.
“In areas that were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, the restoration of infrastructure closely related to everyday life is nearly complete, while 90 percent of the new homes required after the disaster are expected to be completed by this spring,” he said.