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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 February 29 - March 6  > Residents push local gov’t to monitor food radiation levels
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2012 February 29 - March 6 TOP3 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Residents push local gov’t to monitor food radiation levels

March 2, 2012
The local government of Chigasaki City (Kanagawa Pref.) on March 2 launched a service for its residents to measure radiation levels on food products they bring in for inspection. Actions taken by parents to protect their children from internal radiation exposure pushed the government to respond to the public demand for inspections that emerged after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Many parents involved in the effort to have food radiation levels measured had shared concerns over the safety of food products used for elementary school lunch meals. They connected with each other through the Internet and started last June to make representations to municipal officials, the city’s education board, and city assembly members on this matter.

On July 21, they met with Chigasaki Mayor Hattori Nobuaki and submitted to him a statement urging the city government to take measures to ensure the safety of school meals.

The city, however, took no moves to meet their demands. Four of the parents who were frustrated by the negligence of the local government in September submitted to the city assembly two petitions calling on the city to make efforts to avoid to a maximum extent children’s internal exposure from meals provided at daycare centers and elementary schools and to purchase equipment and place experts necessary to measure radiation levels of food products sold to consumers.

The petitions were deliberated at the city assembly’s environment and welfare committee meeting. More than 40 residents came to observe the meeting. Some of them had to watch it on a monitor in the lobby because there were only 38 gallery seats in the meeting venue.

The committee unanimously adopted the petitions and approved the budget for purchasing machines for measuring radiation levels of food.

“I didn’t even know who our mayor was,” said a 35-year-old mother who was involved in this resident-initiated action. “I always thought that city officials had nothing to do with our daily lives, but by meeting and talking with them I realized they are city residents just like us. Ordinary housewives like me can and should convey what we feel to the city government,” she said.

One of the 4 initiators of the petitions is a 50 year-old mother who said that the city government’s latest decision has given “a little hope in our effort to protect all children” from radiation effects. She went on to say, “This is a long-term task. We need to continue to work on this issue by joining hands with the city government.”
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