Safety of Fukushima products publicized at gov’t-aided event in Tokyo

The Foreign Ministry and the Fukushima prefectural government hosted a reception at the ministry’s Iikura Guest House in Tokyo on Dec. 7 to encourage foreign ambassadors in Japan and other parties concerned to publicize to the rest of the world progress in the region’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The event, the second of its kind since March 2015, was intended to dispel reputation damage caused by the 2011 disaster, prevent its memory from fading away, promote exports of Fukushima specialties and step up local tourism. Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and other officials called for support to Fukushima through such measures as the resumption of imports of Fukushima products. Invited to the event were some 300 people, including foreign ambassadors, commerce and industry chamber officials, senior bureaucrats of ministries and agencies concerned, lawmakers, and journalists with foreign media. In his address to the audience, Kono pledged to “have very safe Fukushima farm produce accepted into foreign markets properly through joint efforts of the Foreign Ministry and overseas diplomatic posts.” The lobby of the venue and tables were decorated with potted anthuriums, a foliage plant species grown as a specialty in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Kawamata and regarded as a symbol of post-disaster reconstruction. “The floral language of anthuriums is passion,” Uchibori said. “With all of my passion, I will exert every possible effort for rehabilitation together with those people who share care for Fukushima.” The lid on a ceremonial barrel of sake rice wine was broken open by wooden hammers in a ritual joined by Kono and Uchibori as well as Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto (a House of Representatives member elected from District 2 in Fukushima Prefecture) and prefectural assembly chairman Eiko Yoshida. The participants then raised their glasses filled with sparkling sake provided by Ninki Shuzo brewery in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. The guests were served Western and Japanese cuisine made from prefectural farm produce with Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification as well as sake from Fukushima, which boasts more golds than any other competitor among Japan’s 47 prefectures at the “Annual Japan Sake Awards” national competition for newly brewed sake. Andre Zimmermann, 65-year-old treasurer of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, assured Fukushima of good prospects of sake being sold well in his country after tasting several brands of sake. He said the level of Fukushima sake is high, and it stands a good chance of selling briskly in Switzerland, where sushi has become popular. Ahead of the reception, a Fukushima reconstruction seminar was held, with Uchibori briefing the visitors on the present status of recovery and challenges faced. Eiji Ueda, vice president of J-Village Inc., introduced the J-Village sports complex, noting that it reopened in July after being used as a forward base to battle the nuclear accident. “Smiles and cheers of children have come back at J-Village,” he said. 【Photo】 Officials of foreign embassies in Japan, other guests enjoy tasting various brands of Fukushima sake rice wine (Translated by Kyodo News)