TOKYO, Japan – International Olympic officials will be fed produce from northern Japan hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, as Tokyo 2020 organizers aim to dispel fears over food from the region.
“Restoration of the disaster-hit area is an important pillar of our Games,” a spokeswoman for the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee told Agence France-Presse.
“By offering food from 3 disaster-hit prefectures, we hope to sweep away the false reputation of food from the regions and contribute to the restoration,” she said.
At a dinner during next week’s 3-day visit by International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organizers are planning to offer fine food from the disaster-hit region and invite governors of the three prefectures to the meal, the official said.
The regions are famous for rice, pork, mackerel and apples but details of the menu are yet to be finalized, she added.
The northern Japanese areas of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate were devastated in 2011 by a huge quake-triggered tsunami and the resulting Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident contaminated large swathes of land and tainted the water with radiation.
Right after the disaster – the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 – 54 countries imposed import bans on Japanese-produced food “for fear of contamination with radioactive materials”, farm ministry official Maiko Kubo told Agence France-Presse.
Today, more than six years after the disaster, 25 countries have completely ended the ban and just days ago, the European Union further loosened their rules, scrapping their requirements for safety certificates for rice grown in Fukushima, she said.
However, China still has a trade ban on food from 10 Japanese prefectures and Taiwan from five regions.
Food from the affected areas has to pass strict Japanese safety tests before being put on the market.
A small number of food products made in Fukushima, such as mountain vegetables, are still banned in Japan.
Tokyo 2020 organizers have been keen to include the disaster-hit areas in the preparation for the Games.
In March, Fukushima won formal approval to host baseball and may have the honor of putting on the opening game.
And Kengo Kuma, designer of the new national stadium, the showpiece venue for the Games, has said he hopes to use timber from the disaster-hit region. – Rappler.com