Farmers struggle to keep cows left behind near Fukushima plant
Japan Today -- Dec 28
Having disregarded a state instruction to kill cattle left behind in areas near the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, some local farmers have been struggling to keep about 430 cows within a 20-kilometers radius of the complex exposed to radiation.

The instruction was issued two months after fuel meltdowns at the plant in northeastern Japan were triggered by a massive earthquake and a tsunami on March 11, 2011, for about 3,500 cows kept within the area adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi complex.

Regarding their cows as "family members," some farmers ignored the instruction, while others who followed it say they still suffer psychologically. The central government allowed cattle breeding in the 20-km zone in 2012, but shipments are still banned.

Keiji Okada, a professor of veterinary science at Iwate University and a researcher of animals exposed to radiation, has been taking blood and urine samples from cows at a couple of farms in the zone to see if there are any genetic abnormalities in them.

One farmer who is cooperating with the research is Fumikazu Watanabe, a 60-year-old local cattle farmer, in the town of Namie, several kilometers from the Fukushima plant.

Watanabe said he wants to protect his 50 cows "until they die a natural death just like human parents protect their children."

Before returning to Namie in October last year after evacuation orders for some parts of the town were lifted, Watanabe used to shuttle between the farm and his shelter, which was about 50 km away, by applying for special entry permission to take care of his cows.

Radiation levels at Watanabe's farm stand at 15 to 20 microsieverts per hour, the highest among the seven farms where the 430 cows are kept, but his cows are "so far in perfect health," Okada said.

News source: Japan Today
Mar 20
The head of the Japanese Olympic Committee has announced he will step down when his term expires in June. (NHK)
Mar 20
The average price of all types of land in urban areas rose last year for the first time since 1992 as the growing influx of foreign tourists rejuvenated real estate investment, the government said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Mar 19
Japan's space probe operating on an asteroid some 340 million kilometers from Earth is preparing to study the asteroid's interior by creating an artificial impact crater. (NHK)
Mar 19
Japanese rock singer Yuya Uchida died of pneumonia on Sunday. He was 79 years old. (NHK)
Mar 19
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested four male employees of a hostess club in Adachi Ward over the alleged assault of a fifth male employee, who later died, reports the Sankei Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)
Mar 19
A rush went through the crowd as Ichiro Suzuki settled underneath the ball Shunta Tanaka hit high into air in the third inning. (Japan Times)
Mar 19
A team of investigators into how a Japanese real-estate leasing company built substandard apartment buildings has found building materials were improperly substituted on the orders of the company's founder. (NHK)
Mar 19
As part of an effort to streamline markets and attract more investors, the Tokyo Stock Exchange may demote about a third of its largest listed companies and cut down the bourses it operates to three from four, according to media reports. (Japan Times)
Mar 19
The government will soon start discussing how to achieve a stable Imperial succession, including the creation of female branches of the royal family. (Japan Times)
Mar 19
One of the most unusual stations in the whole country is now open and ready for business. (soranews24.com)