Hopeless Fookooshimar news articles still exist!

The Independent recently published utter dross about Fukushima, displaying a lack of journalistic integrity along with scientific ignorance.

First there is a set of slides which are full of insinuations, but free from facts such as all food must pass Japanese radiation standards (they make no claim that these checks are being bypassed) that are lower than anywhere else in the world. They mention tea specifically, which as far as I am aware is not produced in any significant quantities anywhere north of Shizuoka.

The alarm is being sounded after Taiwanese investigators uncovered more than 100 radioactive food products which had been produced in Fukushima but falsely packaged to give their origin as Tokyo.

Well, all food products are radioactive, and do they mean 100 items or 100 different brands? Here is a relevant Asahi article, but the implication from that seems to be the false labeling is the issue, not any radioactivity.

They then follow-up with a picture that is from an oil refinery in probably Chiba, but the casual reader will assume it is the radiations burning.

There is no firm evidence that any radioactive food has entered the UK, but experts say there is a risk, and products could already have arrived.

There is also a risk that there might be chemicals in the food!

They also have another strange graphic, giving a fifty mile (80 km) fallout radius, which seems rather high too me. Fortunately the comments for the article mostly restore some sanity.



  1. The Apologist

    I was in Taiwan when this story broke. There was no talk of radiated goods then nor has there been since from the Taiwanese sources. The problem was and is mislabeling. The Independent story added the ‘radiated food’ aspect simply by assuming that food originating from Fukushima MUST be irradiated.

    People can check the original China Post and South China Morning Post stories. Nuttin bout radiation being detected. Completely invented bullshit like this from the Independent actually bolsters the government’s reasons for limiting or mediating Fukushima reports.

  2. @The Apologist:

    Actually, it gives support to the government not trying to limit information. The “radioactive” part of this story was entirely made up by a British newspaper. If the government is trying to limit reporting, that just gives fuel to the crazies who can claim cover-up – no matter how ludicrous a cover-up of mass death may seem.

  3. The Apologist

    I understand that the national government is limiting or monitoring media access to direct Fukushima sources. Correct me if I’m wrong. They have no control over what outside media write though, which is why we see fanciful articles like this one, maintaining the fine journalistic tradition of reckless stupidity.

    Adding to what I wrote previously, gleaning what I can from the Chinese sources, the mislabeling appears to be taking place not in Japan but by the Taiwanese importers. So the article’s point regarding how the UK importers cannot control labeling and food product management in Japan is in fact moot.

  4. @The Apologist:

    What form does the limiting of access or monitoring take? Do you mean physical access to the restricted areas? Are they pressuring journalists as in the style of pressuring people on historical accounts?

  5. The Apologist

    The latter.

    But since you are an articulate and well-informed person let me give you a more detailed answer. you are no doubt referring to Debito’s article about the Hawaii-based historian above. And you therefore know that this case involved a (female)representative from the Japanese consulate (self-identified) in Honolulu asking about his beliefs and then asking him to revise what he says in the textbooks he authors. But in Debito’s hand, and later gradually under his followers’ hands, it becomes “shady characters demanding (or threatening) academics.” Then that becomes a set internet meme. More on that later…

    That there is an increasing propensity for government representatives to deal with, request, or confront what they perceive to be biased or false coverage seems to be true. I work in the public sector and have also written articles within the private sector. I have associates in Fukushima. None of them describe scenes with heavies with sunglasses appearing in media offices muttering how, “That’s a very nice news helicopter you have there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to the pilot.”

    But in each case mentioned above (my workplace, the media I have written for, associates in Fukushima) all have felt increasing pressure not to do or say something that might upset the folks in charge.

    Call it the Asahi effect (no, not the beer). After the Asahi Shimbun was challenged and disgraced for sloppy fabricated journalism regarding the comfort women, media people are now triple-checking what they write so as not to invoke a confrontation. This is maintained through soft power, not brute force or directives, because a certain degree of self-censorship and risk avoidance are standard in this country.

    I proposed to write a story about sloppy govt management of a certain health-related proposal. In the past I had no trouble having these suggestions accepted. Now my editor is getting cold feet on such issues. She told me why directly.

    I know that you are aware of some Japanese activist-types who claim to have been harassed into silence on Fukushima and, yes, some of their stories don’t wash well because most are not credible sources for a number of reasons (some are utter cranks). But one very public example of what I’m talking about is Jun Hori, ex-NHK announcer, who did not have a history of fatuous or frivolous muckraking but was chafed by the fact that he felt that powers were trying to stage-manage the news.

    Let me take a detour here to state what I’m not talking about. Around the time when the State Secrets Act was passed there were a bajillion outraged online articles claiming that it was now illegal to report on Fukushima or that critics would hence be shut up under the threat of prosecution. And while the act did have some holes and shoddy wording, for such commentators the mere passing of the act, which was largely in response to the Snowden affair and did not mention Fukushima, meant that Japan had become a fait accompli repressive police state even before it was applied and despite the fact that no one has been prosecuted under the act (to the best of my knowledge) yet.

    VK, you and I both know that self-styled online neo-colonialist pseudo-activists love to dramatize this kind of stuff so that visits from a female consular rep get spun into Yakuza-like threats from shady characters. And I am loathe to give any credence to such people. But that does not negate the fact that the government is aggressively trying to confront what they consider to be damagingly false or dubious information regarding the wartime image and other major issues. And not always doing it well.

    And, again as you well know, there is a lot of stupid, uninformed, purely invented independent commentary out there masquerading as insider truth. A lot of the bullshit churned out by idiots should be challenged (as I’ve seen you do here regarding Fukushima) since it can actually have an adverse impact upon the well-being of evacuees. So, I can, to some extent, understand why the govt has gone on the offensive. But I have three problems with it:

    1. The stage managing is becoming a little too obvious and turns otherwise neutral or even J-friendly folks off. The intent backfires.

    2. This ‘soft power’ of making sure that public agencies and media don’t make ‘mistakes’ is weighing down heavily as the force of the suggestions comes down the hierarchical pipeline.

    3. It gives voice, or lends just a tad more legitimacy, to conspiratorial know-nothings who get all self-righteously hot ‘n horny when they get a sniff of govt involvement in public discourse.

    Last thing regarding the Taiwan case…
    Mosburger Taiwan was accused of using the (ahem) ‘radiated’ food. Subsequent investigation showed that two of these questioned items were in fact from Tokyo and Saitama but one item, a sauce labeled as originating in Tokyo, came from a factory located in Tochigi. Tochigi Prefecture is of course not irradiated at all but is on the Taiwan non-import list. Keep in mind that only the factory, not the foodstuffs used to make the item, is located in Tochigi.

    This is an example of why the govt sometimes feels compelled to correct misinformation. People making fatuous and frivolous claims are inadvertently inviting it.


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