Friday, August 5, 2011

(UPDATED) Yokohama City Finally Admits It May Have Been Feeding School Children with Radioactive Beef

Yokohama City officials, from the ex-Daiei CEO mayor on down, denied and refused to do anything about it since one of the city's assemblymen first raised the issue back in April of school lunches in the city using beef from cows that were possibly contaminated with radioactive materials. The officials asserted that any food items were "safe as long as they are sold in the marketplace". (See my post here for the assemblyman's effort with concerned citizens of Yokohama to force the city to stop the use of beef in school lunches.)

Now, the city's Board of Education finally admits that the city may have fed as many as 67,000 kids in elementary schools in the city with radioactive beef.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10:11PM JST 8/5/2011):


Yokohama City announced on August 5 that the meat from 19 cows in Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate that may have been fed with rice hay contaminated with radioactive cesium may have been used in school lunches at the city's 127 elementary schools (for about 67,000 pupils).


According to the Health and Education section of the city's Board of Education, the meat from 19 cows were used 12 times between April 19 and June 21 as the ingredient for school lunches. The testing for radioactive materials in the meat was never done, and the meat has probably been all consumed. The Health and Education section of the Board of Education says "We don't know if we can trace the meat at all."


25 to 40 grams of the meat was used per serving. The Board of Education says "Since it was a small amount, it's hard to believe it would affect the health."

Here we go again. Citizens of Yokohama, take down the names of the people who said this.

So, the concerned citizens in Yokohama was raising the issue since April, and the they were dead right. They raised the issue with the city, and the city refused to do anything. Why? They could have tested the meat in April, and could have stopped using it. Instead, they did nothing, forced kids to eat school lunches (many parents were upset with school principals refusing to allow home-made lunch). Too afraid to find out? Too cheap to test?

It was only July 11 that Yokohama City finally stopped using the beef for lunch, several days before the summer break. They switched to pork, as if pork were safe. (More than 10,000 pigs have been moved from Fukushima and scattered throughout Japan since April, and there is no way to trace the movement as there is no unique identification system for pigs.)

Needless to say, it is not just elementary schools. That's what the city officials have admitted to. School lunches for kindergartens and nursery schools, and for junior high schools, are also prepared in the city's facilities and distributed to these schools.


UPDATE: Checking the Yokohama assemblyman's message board, it's just unreal what's going on there. And by no means Yokohama is unique in this. Some of what's happening:

  • The city is still intent on sending the school kids to the summer school in Nikko, in Tochigi Prefecture, where the radiation is high;

  • Many schools don't allow children to carry water bottles to schools, and say they have to drink tap water;

  • Many schools still don't allow home-made lunches, and one school demands the parents that they make exactly the same lunch as the school lunch if they insist on home-made lunch for their children. Some schools collect monthly lunch fees from the parents even if their children carry home-made lunches;

  • Schools are planning to have children do the yard cleanup after the summer break.

Parents, pull your children out of schools. Any school.



The announcement from the city's Board of Education is here (in Japanese). It details which school ate what on which date from which cow (with ID number). If you are a parent in Yokohama and read Japanese, go to the link above and check what your child may have been fed.

The Board of Education can't help these misleading statements though:


So far, there has been no report of detection of the radioactive materials exceeding the provisional safety limit.

Of course there isn't, because all the meat has been consumed and there's nothing left to test.

And obligatory reference to "Oh the radiation level from the beef is the same as one chest X-ray so it's no big deal."

It's really scary that these people are "educators". We know better, don't we, thanks in part to people like Professor Kodama (I've started the summary of his interview on August 5), who tells us that the number is irrelevant when assessing the risk of radiation; it's where the radionuclides go in the body and what specific effect they have at particular locations.

(H/T to "Nguyen_ducThuan", a reader of my Japanese blog and a concerned resident in Yokohama City, for the link to the Board of Education.)


nika said...

steam is shooting out of my ears

FigNewton said...

As I posted on your July 12th write-up on this, I am so happy 1) my wife knew not to trust the lunches, and 2) my daughter attends a school she's allowed to bring her own lunch and water. Very rare in Japan, as they want kids to 'fit in'.

And many kids want the same; my wife asked another mother if she was making bento for her daughter. She said the school didn't allow it, and even if she did, her daughter wouldn't take the lunch; she's too concerned about fitting in. Thus, the requirement of making the lunch 'exactly the same as the school lunch'.. Kudos to my wife for cooking two meals every evening; dinner and next day's lunch for my daughter.

Thankfully, my transfer at work has finally gone through. We hope to leave Japan in October. After more than 10 years here, I'm leaving with very mixed emotions. Difficult to express. I think I mostly feel sadness, at the moment. Japan is hurting itself badly. One hope is that the public finally wakes up. Once Japan 'awakens', it's generally good at moving quickly in the right direction. But will it be in time?

I actually see huge potential in green technology advancements here. Necessity brings about invention and innovation.. and the Japanese can engineer the shit out of things. Let's hope

Another reminder to everyone reading this blog. EX-SKF is the only bilingual, updated, balanced resource on the nuclear disaster. It's vital to us living in Japan. If you have the means, please DONATE. (top, right 'Dontate' button on this page.)

Thank you,


doitujin said...

so sick!! i wish it wasn't true...

J said...

From the British & Oz/NZ Chambers of Commerce here in Japan. The last five paragraphs are the most important but I can't highlight them in this comment box:

Japan Government Nuclear Briefing
Published: 01 August 2011

Various Japanese Government departments (MoFA, METI, MHLW, MAFF) took part in a special briefing at the JETRO Offices on 27 July to highlight recent developments at the troubled Fukushima Nuclear power plant and beef safety issues.

Beef Safety Measures
Noriyuki Shikata, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations/Director of Global Communications, Prime Minister’s Office gave a presentation on the chronology of events and subsequent actions by the Government. This presentation was followed by an active Q&A session, principally from the foreign community seeking answers to questions arising from the presentation as well as from recent media reports.

In short, the Japanese Government believes the risk to health is minimal and at this time is restricted to beef herds that consumed rice straw prior to slaughter, after the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. They are setting up additional testing facilities in all neighbouring prefectures to ensure that proper testing is done. No timescales were provided as to when these will be in place or how they will be staffed. If the local prefecture cannot do this it will be left to the Government to implement the testing and TEPCO will be ultimately responsible for paying the costs of setting up the test facilities and ongoing testing.

You can check the testing of various foods from the Fukushima area at the following website (in English)

One area that does require clarification is the Government’s assertion that radioactive cesium has a half-life of 60 days in beef cattle. This is at odds with previous advice on the half-life being 30 years. The Government officials have agreed to re-examine this element of their advice.

They also suggested that poultry and pork were not affected owing to the different diets of these animals. However, following several questions from the floor they admitted that radioactive cesium was found in tests though none had exceeded the provisional regulation values provided by the Food Sanitation Act.

Concerns were also raised about the safety of milk. It has been reported in the Nikkei Shinbun that milk produced in the affected area which is above the legal limit for contamination has been diluted with milk from surrounding areas, which have no or little exposure to radiation. This was said to bring the contaminated milk within the legal limit. The Government has agreed to examine this report.

What was clear from this briefing is that the Japanese Government wants to be seen to be doing something actively to ensure food safety, but in practice the producers seem able to circumvent the guidance issued to them on 14th April 2011.

The conclusion was: check the government website (above) regularly; check as carefully as you can where the food you buy is being sourced from; and be vigilant to media broadcasts regarding how this sensitive situation develops.

FigNewton said...

Thanks for the information, J. Seems like the half-life stats for cesium would be an international standard. Something we could check on Wikipedia.. (idea).

The link you provided seems sparse. The last update was July, 29th, and it was regarding safety of imported food. Where on the site should I check?

FigNewton said...

Whoa.. Did I just imagine someone named J posted a response? It seems to be gone..

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@FigNewton, that's Google's job. I just fished out the post from SPAM filter.

FigNewton said...

@arevamirpal, thanks. I'm not going insane. Thought it might be something like that..

Martin Kliehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Kliehm said...

The unscrupulousness of the Yokohama government touched me deeply. I'm a member of the opposition in the City Council of Frankfurt, which happens to be the proposed German partner city of Yokohama.

So I came up with a formal request that I will ask in the next plenary meeting on August 25. It begins with a rather compressed summary since there is a limit of characters for question time, but I included a short URL to your article from July 12:

"In Yokohama, with the approval of mayor Hayashi and the board of education, contaminated beef from Fukoshima had been used in school lunch at 127 elementary schools and fed to 67,000 children, because it was cheaper. Still in July untested pork was fed. Children were prohibited to bring drinking water and lunch from home. School children will be sent to summer school in Tochigi prefecture, where radiation is ten times higher than in Yokohama. For details, see

Which consequences regarding the city partnership with Yokohama does the municipal administration of Frankfurt draw from the irresponsible behavior of mayor Hayashi, and how can the City of Frankfurt support the children and parents of Yokohama?"

I hope this will help put some pressure on a government in Yokohama that is either ignorant, corrupt, or incompetent.

Best regards,

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Martin Kliehm, the latest number for Yokohama City is:

No. of schools: 158 schools
No. of children who ate: 84,061

Ostensible reason for Yokohama City continuing to use the beef from contaminated area in Tohoku was that "it was safe because it was sold in the market". In reality that no officials would admit, because they were much cheaper because of the radiation contamination scare. They still refuse to test on their own. Most of the beef has been consumed and nothing left to test anyway.

The City hasn't even informed the parents because "it's during the summer school holidays". It continues to insist it's nothing, it's safe.

If you can exert some "gaiatsu" (external pressure, in Japanese), they may at least send the letters to the parents and apologize.

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