Media has it all wrong on foot-and-mouth outbreak


The media has it all wrong on Miyazaki Prefecture’s foot-and-mouth disease, argues Shukan Post (June 11). Bearing the brunt of the blame since the crisis erupted in late April has been farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, while Gov Hideo Higashikokubaru has largely gotten away with casting the prefecture and local authorities as innocent victims. That’s a sleight of hand worthy of the comedian Higashikokubaru used to be, the magazine implies.

The epidemic is devastating Miyazaki’s wagyu beef industry. As of May 25, by Shukan Post’s count, 148,000 cows and pigs – including 49 stud bulls – had been slaughtered, with the toll expected to rise to 300,000 before the dust settles.

Is this a natural disaster, or a human one? Akamatsu’s apology on May 25 suggests the latter, but what precisely he was apologizing for was left vague, while Higashikokubaru seems to be citing the prefecture’s having been caught unawares as proof of innocence. Shukan Post is not convinced.

First of all, it maintains, the Livestock Infectious Disease Prevention Law assigns prevention responsibility not to the central government but to the prefecture. Secondly, the supposed first act of the Miyazaki drama, the April 9 discovery of a sick cow on a farm in Tsuno Town, was not really the beginning after all; 10 days earlier a water buffalo showed symptoms that should have warned of what was in the wind. Thirdly, the mysterious spread of the disease from Tsuno to Ebino, 70 km away, begs the question of a connecting link, which the magazine claims to find in a company called Agura Bokujo, owner of pasture land in both places. Might Agura’s alleged political connections have earned it a tacit inspection exemption?

The sick cow noticed on April 9 caused no immediate alarm, but when a second cow owned by the same farmer showed similar symptoms a week later, the farmer had tests performed, which on April 20 diagnosed foot and mouth disease. Why, however, did a water buffalo’s fever and diarrhea, noted on March 31, fail to generate preventive measures? The buffalo’s foot and mouth disease wasn’t confirmed until April 23. Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology professor Atsushi Shirai, a specialist in livestock diseases, acknowledges that foot and mouth disease is hard to diagnose. He adds, however, that the notorious Taiwan outbreak in 1997, which required a cull of 3.85 million pigs, should have kept prefectural regulators more alert than they apparently were to the possibility.

If the buffalo’s symptoms had been correctly interpreted in time, the ensuing catastrophe could have been averted.

Agura Bukujo, Shukan Post’s link between the two widely separated centers of the outbreak, is a company that owns grazing land and undertakes the pasturing of local farmers’ livestock. “Agura owns 15 pastures in Miyazaki Prefecture,” the magazine hears from an unnamed “local political insider.” “It seems Agura was invited into the prefecture by a Miyazaki Diet rep, a Liberal-Democratic Party heavyweight. So it may be” – or may not be – “that inspectors went easy on them.”

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You can't very well blame politicians for a disease; they are a disease.

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This is about right. Important link missing is Dentsu who helped cover up the initial discovery. Well I don't know who can point it out since Dentsu is the biggest advertisement agency in Japan. Who would take a chance to stand up against it.

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Finding some person or agency responsible should not be a priority. Containment should be first prioity at this late stage of the infection. The method of containment is the same as preventing the spread of disease in the first instance and that is good animal husbandry and cleanliness. Animals don't travel much, especially sick animals. That leaves it pretty much up to humans to transmit by way of unclean clothing or footwear worn around animals and vehicles with animal manure on them or in them. Poor farming practice, especially regarding cleanliness, needs to be addressed before pointing fingers at others. On the other hand the distraction of blaming others lessens one's own guilt.

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Not having 50-year old laws for dealing with animal epidemics would have been a start. Can't really blame the DPJ for that - that's the LDP's fault.

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Might Agura’s alleged political connections have earned it a tacit inspection exemption?

Yep, there had to be a brown paper bag full of cash in this article.

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If this is not partly the farm minister's responsibility, then we don't need one - sack him and use his salary for children in need. Dentsu does this type of work every day - it has become a routine to the point where even the uncritical Japanese population are beginning to get suspicious. Check how the reporting of bills passed in parliament has been censored since DPJ formed government. But then again, can we believe the loose tongue of an unnamed "local political insider"? What are really in his/her interests?

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We see it as more human disaster. 1. Agura Bokujo intentionally neglected the outbreak. 2. Farm minister and administrative didn't take swift action against infection prevention.

Although, much bigger problem is that the media didn't cover the info about Agura's involvement because of its alleged political connections, possibly Souka Gakkai and Yakuza as well.

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Well the only upside that i selfishly saw was cheap Miyazaki Beek at the super recently, down from 3.000yen to 1.200 yen! (I live in Miyazaki) and usually cant afford to eat the nice meat, so i was into it!!

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Ibelieve the media could have it a lot wrong on the foot and mouth ooutbreak - heres my reasons - do you agree?

1) Foot and mouth outbreak originated on one farm - a picture of which I recently saw in a rival paper of government officials- they were at the wrong farm - it was the farm up the road, that is responsible for the initial and complete outbreak (japanesetimes)

2) It is the one farm up the road from the farm photographed, around 8 miles away, not the one featured - the one that is photographed - bought one livestock animal .

3) The guilty farm was questioned by the government officals , claiming they had no problem-after the outbreak the kept secret had gone away

4) foot and mouth lives in the ground for 158 years, pasture land where foot and mouth has been in outbreak - is never to be tilled or the ground ploughed or broken. Has the other farm who was deceptive - have they - dug a pit? (YES THEY HAVE)

5) have persons with farming /livestock ceased moving cattle around until the outbreak is finished?

6) has the vet been to visit the farms?

7) have they used hay soaked in industrial strength disinfectant to wipe their feet on, at the entrances to their farms, for themselves and visitors as foot and mouth is carried on footwear, feet and clothing - and any bags placed on the ground.

8) I know how expensive meat is - but I guarantee you all these wealthy goverment officals eat it every day - unless you see signs of mad cow disease and the screenings have proven them infection free - im confident they are fine.

9) I would advise that everyone raises more beef - to lower the price - gets rid of that one farm and destroys by fire all the infected livestock.

10) Foot and mouth in the uk crossed the food chain.

lets have a song to thing on these things

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PS its not a natural disaster -= they dug a pit, on land where there had previously bewen an outbreak 25 years ago - foot and mouth stays in the groiund for 158 years - you are NOT supposed to dig, walk on it, use it, graize on it, till it, or feed your livestock on it, the farm up the road is responsible for all the outbreak - not the farm in japanesetimes - its the one 8 miles up the road from the one featured in the photograph.

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Well, no one else has said it yet, so here goes: The media have yet again gone and put their foot and mouth in it again.

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Or are they just wronged footed, mouthy bas.......

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