Monthly Archives: November 2023

Appeal Against Food Irradiation

31 October 2023

Tokyo, Japan

Liaison Committee Against Irradiated Foods

National Meeting for Total Abolition of Irradiated Foods

Appeal Against Food Irradiation:

Global Solidarity in the Campaign to Stop Irradiated Food

In Japan, irradiated potatoes were sold since 1974 to prevent germination. Despite being an A-bombed country, Japan was the first in the world to sell irradiated potatoes. This was promoted by those who support nuclear power as “irradiated food has been approved even by Japan.” However, many consumers had concerns about irradiated potatoes and opposed their sale.

Apart from preventing germination, the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments to permit irradiated foods for other uses, including insecticidal (rice and wheat) and sterilising (sausages and citrus fruits) purposes. However, the experimental data showed risks and the World Health Organization (WHO) requested a follow-up study.

In 1980, the WHO suddenly declared that irradiation up to 10 kGy was acceptable, based on political rather than scientific judgement.

In Japan, we were shocked by a case of illegal irradiation of baby food vegetables, which was revealed in 1978. In the trial that followed, company witnesses argued that the WHO had accepted food irradiation and that it was practically harmless. They argued that the company was innocent. However, the court ruling did not accept the WHO’s 10 kGy safety limit and found those involved guilty.

The court noted that “the WHO report lists items that require scientific consideration for irradiation up to 10 kGy, but the required items have not been considered and scientists have pointed out that there are problems” (First trial, 1984; second trial, 1985). This ruling made Japanese consumers aware that the WHO was driven by the political considerations of food irradiation proponents.

The Japanese Government was the only country in the world to conduct toxicity tests on seven irradiated foodstuffs from 1967. The following is a list of the dangers found in the tests on potatoes and onions.

Data from animal experiments showing the dangers of irradiated foods:

  • Animals were fed irradiated potatoes, ovary weight loss (600 Gy), weight loss (300 Gy), increased mortality and abnormalities in the thyroid gland and pituitary gland were observed. The reproductive organs and other vital organs were also found to be affected.
  • Animals were fed irradiated onions (300 Gy), and a follow-up study was conducted after bone abnormalities called rib cartilage fusion and weight loss of the ovaries and testicles were confirmed in the third generation. The irradiation dose was halved (150 Gy) and the amount mixed in the feed was also halved to 2%, but the second generation showed twice as many abnormalities in the cervical ribs, which are ribs attached to the neck bones (cervical vertebrae).

Despite opposition from consumers in Japan, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative in Hokkaido continued its unprofitable business of irradiated potatoes, saying that the market must be enlarged so that the enormous government funds spent on research and development were not wasted. The irradiated potatoes of the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative were also summarised as follows (1989): ”There was a big difference between the laboratory data and the irradiation of potatoes harvested in the actual field.”

1. Irradiation of damaged potatoes at harvest accelerated rotting

2. Irradiation of immature potatoes caused internal blackening

3. Immediately after irradiation, the rate of reducing sugars increased rapidly and crisps turned brown. It took about three months to reduce this rate of reducing sugar.

4. Long-term storage required temperature, humidity and ventilation control even after irradiation.

5. Storage at room temperature caused browning, so storage below 5°C was necessary.


As this shows, actual irradiation was not as effective as expected, and in reality nearly half of the irradiated products had no commercial value and were disposed of.

Fifty years passed without the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative being able to resolve these major discrepancies. Finally, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative decided to stop producing irradiated potatoes, and in 2023 the irradiation facilities were dismantled. Consequently, irradiated potatoes will no longer be produced and sold in Japan from 2023.

We want to inform consumers around the world about this fact and share with them the problems with spices and beef that are now irradiated at similar facilities around the world. We also call on those countries that still irradiate their foodstuffs to stop doing so.

Please continue to campaign against food irradiation.

Press Release: Appeal for Global Solidarity in the Movement Against Food Irradiation

A long consumer campaign in Japan, lasting 50 years, was victorious and led to the abolition of irradiated potatoes.

Date: 1 November 2023

From: Liaison Group Against Food Irradiation

To: Foreign Press 

Keywords: Irradiated food in Japan, Abolition of irradiated potatoes, Consumers’ organisations rally against food irradiation

Appeal for Global Solidarity in the Movement Against Food Irradiation

Request for Media Coverage:

Consumers’ groups in Japan declare victory over the 50-year-old Japanese irradiated food potato business closure and sends appeal to foreign countries (31 October 2023, Tokyo, Japan).

We, the Liaison Group Against Food Irradiation, have been campaigning against food irradiation for 50 years. In Japan, Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative in Hokkaido was shipping irradiated potatoes to the market since 1974, a world first. We are happy to reveal that in 2023, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative closed down its Isotope Irradiation Centre and has dismantled the facility.

On 31 October 2023, some 60 consumer organisations and individuals met at the House of Representatives Building in Tokyo. We called for the total abolition of food irradiation sold around the world. A rally and the “Appeal Against Food Irradiation: Global Solidarity in the Campaign to Stop Irradiated Food” was issued to consumers around the world.

Background: Irradiated food in Japan was initiated by the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission with the aim of irradiating seven irradiated food items. However, toxicity tests on these seven items showed that there were risks, and data were subsequently reported showing the carcinogenicity of the new products and the danger of induced radioactivity occurring.

Japanese consumers campaigned against the first permitted irradiated potatoes and boycotted them for 50 years. Opposition led to the suspension of permits for the remaining six products (onions, rice, wheat, sausage, mandarin oranges and kamaboko), which were intended to prevent germination, fungicide and insecticide.

The boycott method involved consumers across Japan searching for grocers and supermarkets that sold irradiated potatoes and asking them to stop selling irradiated potatoes. This request also conveyed the strong will of consumers. Many shops responded to this request and stopped selling them. As a result, the manufacturer, the Shihoro Agricultural Co-operative, reduced the volume of sales. The agricultural cooperative’s desire (that the market must be enlarged so that the research and development that had been carried out at enormous government expense would not be wasted) did not come through.

After 50 years, the Shihoro Agricultural Cooperative has decided not to renovate its ageing food irradiation facilities and to close down the production and sale of irradiated potatoes. Japan’s only food irradiation facility is now gone.

This is a victory for the 50-year campaign against food irradiation in Japan. The fact that the production and distribution of irradiated food has ceased in Japan is a significant change for the food irradiation administration in Japan and for the world. We believe that it will have a major impact.

The 31 October rally was a conduit for the total abolition of irradiated potatoes in Japan to be communicated to the world, which will lead to the total abolition of global food irradiation. We call on governments and consumers around the world to stand in solidarity for the elimination of outdated food irradiation practices.

Some foreign food suppliers have the wrong information that irradiation of food is allowed in Japan because irradiated potatoes were sold in Japan. This has led to problems with food irradiated in other countries being exported to Japan.

Japanese quarantine stations carry out spot checks of food imported from various countries. Although spot checks have their limitations, so far irradiated foodstuffs that have been found to be illegally irradiated have been found having originated in 14 countries (See table below).

We have made a request to the 14 countries through their embassies to “inform their governments that Japan has abolished irradiation of potatoes and that all irradiated food products are banned. Export violations should not continue” (Dated 9 September 2023).

In Japan, food irradiation facilities for potatoes have been dismantled and are now clear for all to see.

A long consumer campaign in Japan, lasting 50 years, was victorious and led to the abolition of irradiated potatoes.

This appeal to the world is written by consumers confirming their victory against food irradiation. Please report the attached appeal in your country’s media and transmit it to the world. Thank you. 


Media coverage in Japan: Shouhisha Shimbun: 照射食品反対連絡会、50年の活動成果を報告 国内施設閉鎖受け

(Photo) Kubota Hiroko, Japan Organic Agriculture Association


(Photo) Hokkaido Shihoro Agricultural Cooperative Isotope Irradiation Centre, office (top) and 2023 demolition site (below).

Irradiated potatoes sold with “Food irradiation” labels in shops (2022):

Information booklet about the 1984-85 Court Case and Convictions Regarding Illegally Irradiated Baby Food

From page 2 of the Opposition Liaison Group’s publicity brochure

© Copyright: Chiba Tetsuya

For more information, please contact:

1-9-19-207 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0051

Attention: Consumers Union of Japan

Contact Email:

The Liaison Group Against Food Irradiation was formed in 2006 by the following organisations:

Shufuren (Housewives’ Federation)

Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)

Citizens’ Committee for Food Safety and Monitoring

Tokyo Federation of Local Women’s Organisations

Japan Organic Agriculture Research Association (JOAA)

Food Irradiation Network

Health Information Research Centre

Pal System Tokyo Co-operative Society

All Japan Farmers’ Union Federation

Plus some 60 other organisations and individuals

Appendix: Cases of food hygiene law violations in Japan due to food irradiation (1996-2023):

Continue reading Press Release: Appeal for Global Solidarity in the Movement Against Food Irradiation