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Construction of mega solar power plant starts in Minamisoma city

21 May 2016

A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on May 20 for the construction of one of two major solar power plants planned in Minamisoma city. The Minamisoma Mano-Migita-Ebi Solar Power Plant, located in Minami-Migita in the city’s Kashima district, will be operated by Solar Power Minamisoma-Kashima Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sumitomo Corp. group. Construction work is being undertaken by Toshiba Corp. and Taisei Corp., both of which contracted with the Minamisoma city government about land development and other preliminary work for the solar project.

The plant will be capable of generating 59.9 megawatts, equivalent to power consumed by some 20,000 households a year. The project will cost about 22 billion yen. The land plot of the plant, about 106 hectares, is to be leased from the city that has acquired the tract, part of an area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami in 2011. The plant is scheduled to begin operation in March 2018.

The other project is to be launched by autumn on a 46-hectare tract of municipally owned land in the Shimoshibusa-Kaibama area in the city’s Haramachi district. The Minamisoma Haramachi-Higashi Solar Power Plant will be capable of generating 32.3 megawatts. The two plants will thus have a combined output of some 92 megawatts, the second largest among solar power projects planned in the northeastern Japanese region of Tohoku.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

19 May 2016

18 brands of new 'sake' brewed in Fukushima win top award, most in Japan for 4th year running

In an annual national contest of newly brewed "sake" rice wine, 18 brands from Fukushima Prefecture were awarded the Gold Prize on May 18, marking the largest number of top brands among those in Japan's 47 prefectures for the fourth straight year. It was the first time for a prefecture in the Tohoku region to achieve the honor for four years in a row, according to the Fukushima prefectural government. This represents renewed evidence of Fukushima's high level of sake-brewing techniques. Given intensifying nationwide moves to improve brewing expertise, Fukushima brewers are poised to pursue further improvement in their product quality.

The top Fukushima brews in the Annual Japan Sake Awards for the 2015 brewing year from July 2015 through June 2016 included those of Kokken Brewery Corp. of Minamiaizu town and Toyokunishuzo Ltd. Partnership of Aizu-Bange town, both of which won the top honor for the ninth consecutive year, while two others -- Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative of Nihonmatsu city and Nagurayama Sake Brewery Co. of Aizuwakamatsu city -- did so for the eighth successive year. Another brewer, Sakaegawashuzo Ltd. Partnership of Nishiaizu town, was awarded the top prize for the first time.

Besides Fukushima, four other prefectures -- Yamagata, Hyogo, Niigata and Miyagi -- had 15 or more Gold Prize brands. Yamagata and Hyogo won the top award for 17 brands each, closely trailing Fukushima. Niigata submitted 69 brands to the competition, the largest number, followed by Nagano with 57 and Fukushima with 4l.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

18 May 2016

Kuwait lifts import control on Japanese food, 1st among 6 Persian Gulf countries

Kuwait has lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, including from Fukushima Prefecture, imposed after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. It was the first such action among the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Building on the Kuwaiti case, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Foreign Ministry and other relevant government departments are poised to step up efforts to have import restrictions removed in other Middle East countries.

According to the farm ministry, Kuwait took the action in the belief that the safety of food in Fukushima has been adequately secured after the lapse of five years since the nuclear disaster. The country suspended all food imports from Japan in April 2011.

Kuwait resumed food imports from Japan in September 2012 on condition that all food products be subject to tests for radioactive substances. The country’s food imports primarily comprise soft drinks, sauce and mixed seasonings, and marine products such as tuna and bonito. Its food imports from Japan totaled 170 million yen in 2015, up 40% from the previous year. Interest in Japanese fruit is growing in the country, particularly among the wealthy class. The farm ministry expects demand to rise for Fukushima fruit such as peaches and pears following the removal of import restrictions.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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