Urgent Statement: Protest Against TEPCO’s Discharge of Contaminated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Ocean
Future of Food: Public Meeting on Genome-edited Fish in Kyoto
60 Years and More, for Japan’s Nuclear Reactors? No Thanks!
The Fukushima Contaminated Water Release: From the NGO Perspective
From the Editors: There Are Always Alternatives
Consumers Union of Japan has a history as an alternative voice in Japan and the global community. We do what we can to appeal to common sense, based on the principles that consumers and citizens have rights: the right to know being one of the most fundamental.
The right to protest is also emerging as an important one.
However, as the recent debate surrounding the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant shows, TEPCO and the government will do whatever they think is right, regardless of the protests, here and abroad.
We believe there are alternatives, and we will continue speaking up against the mis-management of nuclear power and its supporters.
Urgent Statement Protest Against TEPCO’s Discharge of Contaminated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Ocean
On 24 August 2023, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) forced the release of contaminated water generated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident into The Pacific Ocean. We protest with strong anger against this outrageous action, which violates the written promises made to fishermen’s groups and shows no regard for the opposition and concerns expressed by local communities in Fukushima Prefecture and other regions and groups. The decision to discharge the water into the ocean was made without any consideration of the various alternatives that were proposed in response to the Government’s policy decision in April 2021, and shows the administration’s complete lack of respect for the opinions of citizens and parties concerned. Although the contaminated water stored in the tanks is supposed to have had all but tritium removed, in reality about 70% of the contaminated water still contains radioactive substances such as cesium, strontium and iodine, which exceed the standard values. If the water is discharged into the ocean in this state, even if it is diluted, there is a risk that it will be taken up by fish, shellfish and algae and become concentrated and appear on our dinner tables, potentially causing damage to our health. In addition, tritium has an extremely large impact when it enters the living organism. An even bigger problem is the Kishida Government’s shift to a pro-nuclear policy, which includes restarting and building new nuclear power stations, extending the operating periods of old ones, and strengthening support for the nuclear power industry. Consumers Union of Japan has upheld the slogan “A Sound and Healthy Life for the Future”. The current discharge of contaminated water into the ocean and the promotion of nuclear power are incompatible with the kind of society we seek. We strongly demand that the government and TEPCO immediately stop the oceanic discharge and express our determination to move forward together with many consumers and consumers towards the early realisation of a nuclear power free society.
Genome-edited foods are now being distributed in Japan, and in Japan alone, and are starting to appear on our tables. Moreover, two of the three types of genome-edited food distributed in Japan are fish (horse mackerel and tiger puffer fish). Until now, genetically modified fish have never been distributed as food in Japan. Genome-edited foods are as dangerous as, or even more dangerous than, genetically modified foods, yet the government has stated that there is no need to assess whether they are safe to eat or to label them. It is also totally unpredictable what will happen if genome-edited fish escape and enter the ecosystem. Regional Fish, the Kyoto University venture that developed, farms and sells such fish, has made no attempt to respond to our concerns or questions, while downplaying the dangers.
The fish farm is located in Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture, where the rich fishing grounds produce a lot of delicious local fish. However, Miyazu City has adopted genome-edited tiger puffer fish as an official “Hometown Tax Return Gift” as part of a program to promote local regions around Japan. Despite local citizens demanding that it be revoked, the city will not listen.
Regional Fish is developing genome-edited fish in collaboration with Food & Life Companies, which owns Sushiro, the revolving sushi restaurant chain. It has established a joint venture with NTT for land-based aquaculture and claims to be planning to establish new land-based aquaculture facilities across the country.
Genome-edited fish are now gradually making their way into our daily lives. But there is no labelling. We, the consumers, have no choice. Consumers Union of Japan is calling on Regional Fish to stop the development and cultivation of genome-edited fish, and on Miyazu City to withdraw them from its official tax return program. Furthermore, we are also working with the fishing industry to stop the onshore cultivation of genome-edited fish. This is why we have organised this meeting in Kyoto, where genome-edited fish are being developed and farmed.
We hope you will join us at this meeting to help protect the future of our food supply!
Date: 23 September 2023 13:00 – 16:00
Venue: Hito Machi Koryukan Kyoto, Kyoto Main Conference Room
An increasing number of municipalities around Japan have recently started to use organically grown rice, vegetables and other ingredients in school lunches in primary and secondary schools. Citizens are also increasingly calling for organic ingredients to be used in school lunches, and various initiatives have been launched in various parts of the country.
Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) considers that the inclusion of organic food in school lunches is not only good for children’s health, but also protects the environment and the producers, including local farmers. In order to further expand this trend, the initiatives of municipalities that are already using organic food (not only JAS standards) can be helpful.
We decided to conduct a survey of progressive municipalities in various regions. See below for the content of the survey in English:
Q: What is the population of your municipality and how many primary and secondary schools provide school lunches and how many students are served?
Number of Primary Schools Serving Pupils
Number of Junior High School Serving Pupils:
Q: Please circle the relevant school meal preparation method. (1) Own school system by school (2) Centre-based system (3) Combination of own school system and centre system
School lunch costs
Q: What is the average cost per meal? Primary school: Yen______________ Junior high school: Yen______________
About your organic school lunches
Q: When did you start using organic ingredients for school lunches? Since year (e.g. 2020):
Q: How often do you serve organic school lunches each year?
Q: How often (in total days) are organic school lunches served? Days per year:
Q: What organic ingredients do you use? Please circle all that apply and write the name of the ingredient for others: Staple food: rice, bread (wheat etc.), noodles, other: Vegetables: onions, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, radishes, other: Meat: beef, pork, chicken, other: Drinks: milk, fruit juice, green tea, other: Fruit: apples, tangerines, grapes, bananas, strawberries, other: Seasonings: miso, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, oil, sake, mirin, other: Please specify any other organic ingredients not listed above:
Q: What proportion of the total school lunch is made up of organic ingredients (in monetary terms)? Rice %, wheat, barley %, vegetables %, meat %, drinks %, fruit %, seasonings %.
Q: How do you procure your organic ingredients? Please circle the relevant procurement method and ingredients. (1) Directly from municipal farmers: rice, wheat, vegetables, meat, drinks, fruit, other: (2) From municipal agricultural organisations: rice, wheat, vegetables, meat, drinks, fruit, etc. (3) From other sources: rice, wheat, vegetables, meat, drinks, fruit, other:
Q: How did you come to use organic food? Please circle the relevant number. Please describe any others. (Multiple answers allowed) (1) Residents’ (parents’) demands, (2) Producers’ demands, (3) Councilors’ demands, (4) Commitments by the head of government, (5) Nutrition teachers’ and cooks’ demands, (6) Other:
Please send your reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ito City School Lunch Campaign (20 July to 12 August 2023) Poster:
Since Covid-19 was reduced to a Category 5 infectious disease, face-to-face study meetings and gatherings have gradually increased. On 1 July 2023, the general meeting of the East Japan Liaison Group for Clean Water and Life was held face-to-face for the first time in four years. A study session was held with Associate Professor Harada Sadao of Doshisha University speaking on the theme “Plastic in the Ocean” Seeing the lecturer’s facial expressions and hearing his voice, I think the participants realised the advantages of face-to-face lectures. It was also invigorating for some of the participants to see each other for the first time in a long time, and to confirm that they are continuing their activities.
Online meetings, which were popularised during the Covid-19 Pandemic, are useful for many people to participate and spread the word about different issues. I think they will be used even more in the future. But why not also hold face-to-face study meetings? In my opinion the role of Japan’s local consumer centres is not only to provide advice on complaints. I think they could also respond to consumer requests for study groups and small meetings.
Do try making a request to hold a course on something you want to know or learn about at your local office.
Topics include fragrance pollution, food additives, food labelling, electromagnetic device pollution, de-plasticised lifestyles, artificial grass, genetically modified foods (GMOs), genome-edited foods and even food tech such as insect foods. For advice on lecturers, please make use of the CUJ Lecturers’ Group. You may unexpectedly meet someone close to you who is dealing with the same issues.