You wouldn't need a so-called "conspiracy theory" when you have the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who is eager to register the Japanese cuisine as "world intangible cultural heritage".
Several readers asked whether the cows and pigs in Fukushima Prefecture had actually been evacuated or sold. Answer is yes, and it's been happening since March, and more so after the end of April, thanks to this particular Ministry's guidance.
From Asahi Shinbun (4/19/2011):
On April 19, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries decided on the policy to evacuate the cows being raised inside the "planned evacuation zone" that the national government would soon designate [between 20 and 30 kilometers radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant]. As Fukushima Prefecture has expressed interest in evacuating the cows inside the proposed zone, the Ministry will start the evacuation in cooperation with the prefectural government.
農水省によると、計画的避難区域の対象になる予定の福島県葛尾村、浪江町、飯舘村などには約２万頭の肉用牛や乳用牛がいるとみられる。福島県内ではこれ らの牛をすべて受け入れきれないとみて、全国の都道府県に受け入れられるかどうかを打診し始めた。これまでに、栃木県が日光市と塩谷町にある計３カ所の県 営牧場で、肉牛と子牛最大１５０頭を引き取る意向を示している。
According to the Ministry, there are about 20,000 meat cows and milk cows in the planned evacuation zone that includes Katsurao-mura, Namie-machi, and Iitate-mura. Since it would be impossible to accommodate all these cows within Fukushima Prefecture, the Ministry has started to ask the other prefectures all over Japan if they can accommodate the cows. So far, Tochigi Prefecture has expressed intentions to receive up to 150 meat cows and calves at its three ranches in Nikko City and Shiotani-machi run by the prefecture.
The evacuation will be for the cows in the planned evacuation zone and in the emergency evacuation-ready zone in 20 to 30 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. There's a possibility that the cows can be kept in the emergency evacuation-ready zone, the cows in the planned evacuation zone have the priority.
Prior to evacuation, all the cows will be measured for radiation. A certain safety limit will be set, and only the cows whose radiation measure lower than the limit will be evacuated. If they measure higher, then the cows will be scrubbed and washed to remove the radioactive materials on their skins and measured again. If the level is under the the limit after washing, then they will be evacuated.
So what is the standard? 100,000 cpm measured by a survey meter.
Here's the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on April 22:
Survey and decontamination of cattle before moving from the ranch
Employees of the Cattle Health and Safety Bureau of Fukushima Prefecture (or equivalent personnel) will conduct the survey on all cows to be moved using the radiation survey meters, and only cows that measure less than 100,000 cpm will be moved. At the same time, they will confirm how the cattle have been raised, record the radiation measurement and record whether the decontamination is done.
The flow chart by the Ministry shows if the cows don't pass the radiation test the first time, they can repeat the test many times until they pass. The chart is for meat cows that will be sold for meat, but the measurement and decontamination process is the same for moving any cow out of the zone.
So where have the cows gone? There is no official word to this day. Only anecdotal news:
But 23 prefectures have responded to the Ministry that they are willing to accept Fukushima cows.
And the 14,000 pigs? Again, no official word. But here's from Miyazaki Nichi Nichi Shinbun (4/23/2011):
No official word either on 40,000 chickens that were left in Fukushima, which were going to be sold or slaughtered.
東日本大震災の被災地で飼育されていた豚計５２４頭を、綾町の畜産農家と都城市の農場が避難先として受け入れている。河野知事が２２日に明らかにした。A cattle farmer in Aya-cho and a ranch in Miyakonojo City in Miyazaki Prefecture have received the total of 524 pigs from the earthquake-affected area. Governor Kono disclosed on April 22.
The cattle farmer in Aya-cho has received total 22 pigs from the farm run by his acquaintance in Fukushima. The pigs were evacuated from Fukushima in late March due to radiation concern, as the farm was located at 20 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant.
From Fukushima Prefecture's announcement on May 6 "Moving the cattle from the planned evacuation zone" [that doesn't include "emergency evacuation-ready zone"]:
Pigs: 2,500 already moved outside the area or sold for meat, 14,000 remaining
Chickens: 870,000 already moved outside the area or sold for meat or disposed, 40,000 remaining.
For some reason, Fukushima Prefecture didn't seem to have included milk cows in the number above. That's probably the reason for the difference in number from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who reported "20,000" meat cows and milk cows in the zone.
The prefecture also informs us in that document that as of April 30, none of the cows exceeded 100,000 cpm, necessitating the decontamination; the highest was 5,000 cpm.
No word in the above Fukushima Prefecture document about decontamination procedures for pigs or chickens. No news at all on where all these chickens have gone.