Agricultural and fishery production in parts of Tohoku returns to pre-disaster levels

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Agricultural, forestry and fishery production in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures has returned to its level before the great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 in eastern Japan.

This production is also on the mend in Fukushima prefecture, the other prefecture most affected by the disaster, but the recovery is only half completed due to the lasting effects of rumors on the safety of local products caused. through the triple merger in Tokyo. Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant No. 1

As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, many challenges remain for the full recovery of related industries in the disaster areas of the Tohoku region, including import restrictions imposed by South Korea and d ‘other countries.

The aquaculture industry in Miyagi suffered enormous damage from the tsunami. The output of the marine fishing and aquaculture industries in Miyagi totaled 78.8 billion yen in 2018, but above the level before the disaster of March 2011, mainly thanks to the resumption of salmon farming. silver.

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At Iwate, that production stood at 37.8 billion yen in 2018, roughly on par with predisaster levels.

Agricultural production has exceeded pre-disaster levels in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

An official from the Miyagi prefectural government’s agricultural policy department attributed the rebound to a conversion of production from rice to strawberries and other products that are attracting high demand.

But in Fukushima, in March last year, agriculture had restarted in only 30% of the areas for which evacuation orders had been issued after the nuclear disaster.

Agricultural production in the prefecture remains below the pre-disaster level, as product prices are slow to recover.

Miyagi Prefecture aquaculture workers saw their fortunes drop and rise again in the years following the March 2011 disaster. KYODO

“Unsubstantiated rumors about product safety have had a strong impact,” said an official from the prefectural government’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries department.

In addition, treated radioactive water from the distressed Fukushima No.1 plant casts a veil on the local fishing industry. The central government is considering dumping treated water into the Pacific Ocean, raising concerns about further damage to the reputation of local products.

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“Consumers would have a feeling of rejection and our products would not be accepted,” said Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Prefectural Federation of Fukushima Fisheries Cooperative Associations.

Import restrictions on agricultural, forestry and fishery products and other food products that were kept in place by 15 countries and regions due to the nuclear accident are a major obstacle to rebuilding the industry.

Among them, South Korea continues to ban imports of fishery products from Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, as well as other neighboring prefectures.

Miyagi’s sea sprinkler breeders, which depended heavily on South Korea’s export demand, have been unable to develop another major buyer, and many are on the verge of doing so. bankruptcy, according to the Miyagi Prefecture Fishing Cooperatives Association.

A drop in the number of tourists due to the epidemic of the new coronavirus has proved to be an additional obstacle to the reconstruction of the local industry.

In Iwate, abalone consumption has slowed, although a prefectural official expressed confidence in the quality of the local specialty. At Miyagi, transaction volumes fell for Sendai beef.

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In Fukushima, the consumption of plaice and other fish has plummeted. A prefectural official said: “We have the double whammy of reputation and the coronavirus.”

The three prefectures of Tohoku also face a severe shortage of commercial successors in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

Amid an aging population, the number of workers involved in sea fishing operations in the three prefectures stood at around 13,000 in 2018, down sharply from more than 20,000 in 2008. The number of companies agricultural trade has halved there in the past 10 years.

The Fukushima official said the prefectural government plans to step up efforts to encourage the migration of people from outside Fukushima to promote the reconstruction of industries.

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