London, June 20 (IANS) Britain is set to become the first European Union (EU) country to resume rice imports from Fukushima prefecture in Japan, which experienced one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
From July onwards, Fukushima-harvested rice will be on store shelves in London due to the efforts of a joint campaign by a group of Fukushima natives in Britain and a local Japanese agricultural cooperative.
The groups have managed to export 1.9 tonnes of a rice variety, known as ‘Ten no tsubu’ — meaning ‘grain of the sky’ in Japanese, EFE news reported.
According to March data from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 34 countries had imposed prohibitions or limitations of some sort on products grown in the Fukushima prefecture and its surroundings, fearing radioactive contamination.
Since January, the EU has allowed imports of tea, livestock products, and fruit (with the exception of persimmon) without any certification, although rice from Fukushima will need to confirm that it cleared radiation controls in Japan, or in the country of destination in order to enter the EU.
Britain, after Malaysia and Singapore, will be the third country in the world and the first in the EU, to import rice from Fukushima since the nuclear accident.
Emissions and radioactive discharges resulting from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, caused by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, have displaced thousands of people from the neighbourhood of the plant and have negatively affected agriculture and local fishery.