In Japan, rice is life. It is the core of the Japanese diet and its importance cannot be overstated.
After the Fukushima meltdown, since radioactivity in rice grown in the irradiated ground is not visible to the naked eye, tests must be conducted to determine its levels of radioactive cesium. If the levels are too high, the rice can’t be sold. As a result of tests instituted by the government, shipments of rice from an extensive area around Fukushima prefecture have been banned after the tests revealed they contained levels of radioactive cesium that exceeded safe levels. It is the first time the government has banned shipments of rice since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A larger issue remains: health problems faced by the Japanese people after the meltdown, particularly mental health problems, did not appear to command the same degree of importance with government officials, farmers, and the people at large. The negative effects of the meltdown are not limited to just the harm caused by radiation levels present immediately after the Fukushima disaster. Simply living through this catastrophic disaster caused severe and persistent shock and trauma.