Fukushima residents prefer random sampling to blanket screening for rice radiation tests

A fiscal 2019 survey of residents in Fukushima Prefecture has found 46.0% favor the local government's policy decision to shift to "random sampling" from the current practice of blanket screening for radiation testing on all bags of newly cropped rice, according to survey results announced on Feb. 4. The ratio exceeded the 40.0% who favored "continuation" of the present blanket checks for the first time since fiscal 2015 when the topic was first included in an annual poll conducted by the Fukushima Prefecture Liaison Committee of Consumer Organizations. Meanwhile, 13.0% replied that "all bags may not be tested," showing an increase of 2.8 percentage points. "As a result of the careful transmission of information on the outcome of inspections, a sense of safety appears to be spreading among prefectural residents," a committee member said. The survey covered 1,334 residents. The ratio of those seeking the continuation of checks on all bags shrank to about half the level of fiscal 2015, when it was at 81.3% amid concerns over radioactive fallout from the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Of those polled who desire random sampling, 24.9% chose "inspection of a sample from every farming family," up 4.7 points from the previous year, and 21.1% sought "inspection of every municipal sample," down 1.3 points. "We think the outcome has resulted from progress made in people's understanding of safety," said an official of the prefectural government's section in charge of rice paddies and dry fields. As for the 40% portion of respondents seeking the continuation of blanket inspections, the official said the authorities "would like to keep sending out precise and careful information that will lead to the ensuring of confidence" in the safety of local rice. * Survey method: Members of the Fukushima Prefecture Liaison Committee of Consumer Organizations distributed 1,550 copies of a questionnaire from July to August last year, and 1,334 people or 86% responded. Male respondents accounted for 462 and females 872. The age bracket that logged the largest number of replies was respondents in their 70s, who numbered 367, while the age group to respond the least was those in their 30s, at 106. Respondents were from municipalities in the cities of Fukushima, Koriyama, Date, Nihonmatsu, Shirakawa, Aizuwakamatsu, Sukagawa, Motomiya, Tamura and Soma; the towns of Kawamata, Inawashiro, Minamiaizu, Aizumisato, Namie, Koori, Ono, Ishikawa and Tanagura; and the villages of Iitate, Otama and Nishigo. (Translated by Kyodo News)