Blanket radioactivity checks of rice produced in Fukushima to continue beyond 2014

The Fukushima prefectural government is poised to continue the current practice of checking all packs ofrice harvested in the prefecture for radioactive contamination after fiscal 2014 ending next March. Governor Yuhei Sato made the policy known on July 4 when he spoke at a meeting with the heads of municipalities in the central part of the prefecture in connection with the present three-year radioactivity test program through fiscal 2014. The meeting was held at the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute in Koriyama, a unit of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tokyo. "We have yet to gain full understanding of the blanket checking program," Sato told the meeting, suggesting its continuation beyond fiscal 2014. According to the prefectural government, the program costs about 700 million yen a year. The prefecture obtained the central government's agreement last March to continue until fiscal 2017 a national subsidy program for decontamination work associated with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power accident. But the prefectural government says its fund for financing the radioactivity-checking program is running short and that it has no idea how long to continue the program in its present form. It will review the program by taking into account the realities facing rice farmers, ongoing measures to dispel harmful rumors and other factors, according to prefectural officials. (Translated by Kyodo News)