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Japan bans all cattle shipments from Fukushima over radiation fears

74 Comments

Japan on Tuesday suspended cattle shipments from Fukushima Prefecture on fears of radiation-tainted beef in the country's meat distribution chain, four months after a nuclear accident in the region.

The central government told Fukushima Gov Yuhei Sato to "halt shipments of all cattle in Fukushima to meat-packing factories," until the safety of the meat can be confirmed, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told reporters.

Around 650 beef cattle are thought to have been contaminated with radioactive caesium from hay they were fed with before being sent to meat processing facilities across Japan since late March.

Beef from the cattle, which were mainly from Fukushima, was shipped to most of Japan's 47 prefectures and some of the meat is thought to have already been consumed.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday apologised in the Diet for the issue. "I feel the responsibility for not being able to prevent this from happening and I am very sorry," he said.

Hay stored outside is thought to have been contaminated by radioactive materials spewed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the weeks after it was hit by reactor meltdowns following the the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In the latest food scare associated with the disaster, cows from farms outside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) Fukushima nuclear no-go zone were found to have eaten contaminated hay, raising fears that fallout reached a wider area than thought.

On Monday, Fukushima officials said they detected up to 157,000 becquerels of radioactive caesium per kilogram in straw used at some farms -- about 520 times the government-designated limit.

The government has sought to reassure the public that there is no immediate health threat from eating standard quantities of the beef. Many experts say long-term radiation exposure can increase cancer risks.

Japan has not set up a centralized system to check vegetables and meat for radiation, relying instead on testing carried out by local authorities.

Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano said Tuesday that his ministry would carry out checks across the country on rice straw for beef cattle.

Edano said affected farmers would be compensated for losses as a result of the ban. "We will take every possible measure to ensure appropriate compensation for cattle farmers," Edano said.

Revelations that contaminated food has reached markets have again raised food safety fears after radioactive materials were found in a range of goods including green vegetables, tea, milk and fish.

In the aftermath of the crisis at the Fukushima plant, the government restricted shipments of milk, spinach and other vegetables before lifting them, saying radiation was below safety levels.

Tea grown south of Tokyo was found to also be well over the government limit for contamination.

© Agence France-Presse

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

74 Comments
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Smart move. Now build on this with more thorough testing within neighbouring prefectures so it doesn't happen again!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It took 4 months, and is done after the cattle have gone and been exposed? Hey Kid would you like a balloon!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a good idea, and only about 3-4 months late. It's not just the beef, of course, but chicken, pork, vegetables, and all other food and drink (beer, sake unless it was bottled before the accident). Likewise plastic, building materials, concrete, soil, compost, fertilizer, sludge, and anything else you can think of that can be radioactive. Miyagi may have some of the same problems, though perhaps northern Tohoku is okay. The government has been reactive, not proactive, and if it wants people's trust, it really needs to get a little ahead of the game. Get out there and check everything, please. If it's radioactive, don't let it be shipped, and figure out something sane to do with it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Should have been done from Day Zero, THEN when proven to me OK or --as in this case-- NOT acted accordingly. It is MINDBOGGLING that this approach, as with the catasrophe itself has worked frob best to worst instead of vice versa.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So it was originally a small number then it became 435 now its 650. Any bets on what it will be tomorrow. But well done to the Japanese government on their fast response, once again an example to the world how to manage a crisis situation. Note to rest of world, in case of emergency learn from the Japanese government and DO THE OPPOSITE!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Uhm.... If the cows are radiation-tainted and the Jay-government is going along with this assessment.... How about the people???

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Foot and mouth disease in Kuyshu, radioactive cattle in Fukushima, I guess Japan is going to have to get it's "wagyu" from Montana. They have been raising them to japanese specifications there for years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Too little too late. The underlining theme of this crisis.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Should have been done from Day Zero, THEN when proven to me OK or --as in this case-- NOT acted accordingly.

There's the tiny issue of Day Zero being the day when 20,000+ people died in a huge catastrophe that destroyed lives and vital infrastructure. There's not enough resources to do everything that needs to be done instantly. Food safety is a high priority, but much much lower than other humanitarian and technical priorities.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Why just cattle?

It should apply to ALL animal and plant food including milk, eggs & beverages/drinks.

Just wait until the rice harvest starts. It will be a whole new round of lies and deception in pursuit of profits.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

pawatan,

Fine day zero is probably too much to ask but seriously 4 months is a little bit too long. But your statement that food safety is a lower priority than humanitarian and technical priorities. I disagree, if the food is no good that will increase the humanitarian issues, and l think that they have more than a couple of people working on this surely something could have been done before now. Its almost like they release a bit of bad news at a time and judge the reaction before acting either that or they are totally and utterly useless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Watch them just relabel the beef and everything else as coming from any where but this area - problem solved!!!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Announcement comes after confirming that Stocks are fully exhausted (?)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Too little too late.

I agree it's too late, but a total ban certainly isn't "too little".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tokyokawasaki: "Why just cattle? It should apply to ALL animal and plant food including milk, eggs & beverages/drinks."

Shhhh! Don't jump the gun! You have to wait until fowl and pork have been proven shipped with beyond the 'agreed upon' levels of radiation. It took the government more than four months to realize you probably shouldn't ship and sell radioactive beef -- I reckon it'll be a few more months before the catch on with chickens and pigs.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Prompt Action - less than a week since the issue became known, exposed or admitted to...

but as @exportexpert writes, watch out for re-labeling - the food and meat industry are experts at this!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The words Stable door, horse, bolted and after spring to mind.

I'm with the posters above. This will apply only to beef. Then we'll find, in a few weeks that poultry and rice have been tested, found to be contaminated, but shipped anyway. Then we'll have the same shuffling of feet and "dou shio?" for a month or so before another "crackdown" and then those will be the top-priority foodstuffs for relabelling.

This place is a joke. Anywhere else in the world there would be mobs of enraged citizens baying for blood. But not here. Shoganai. Shoganai, ne? Baaaaaaa....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Two problems: First, the ban is totally artificial. Fukushima Prefecture? - all of it is dangerous, or only some, and what about neighboring areas? Such a blanket ban does nothing to instill confidence. Second, it's clear that regaining lost confidence is immeasurably more difficult than retaining it to begin with. They need to be proactive with conservative, public testing for all agricultural products coming out of the region - and not just Fukushima. This is the only way to maintain the people's trust.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is anybody besides me wondering about the contaminated hay that started this mess? Is THE HAY being sold outside of Fukushima Prefecture?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

NuckinFutz,

Exactly, the beef is one thing but has the hay been sold outside Fukushima? What other animals has it been feed to or come into contact with? The beef is only part of the issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes ban everything in Japan! Not trying to be funny but looking at the radiation weather map it's blowing all over the country. Foreigners are fortunate they can get out permanently.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Everything, everything, everything from the affected areas should have been fully QUARANTINED from day 1. This is beyond unacceptable and inexcusable.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is this ban a Voluntary Ban? It feels like deja vu, did not this same situation happen with the radioactive leafy vegetables being bought and sold ?

Spinach with radiation 27 times higher than limit found in Ibaraki, JT article MARCH 21, 2011

Radioactive substance exceeding limit found in beef in Fukushima, JT article APRIL 01, 2011

Retest finds no radioactive substances in Fukushima beef, JT article APRIL 02, 2011

Co-op sells banned spinach to consumers in eastern Japan, JT article APRIL 21, 2011

3 ( +3 / -0 )

farms outside the 20-kilometer Fukushima nuclear no-go zone found to have eaten contaminated hay before being moved around the country, with some of the meat thought to have been consumed.

This is just criminal, people seriously need to be arrested and put on trial for endangering the lives of everyone in Japan, it's not like they did not know this would happen, in fact they kept it all hush hush.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Next will be contaminated pigs after they get feed "cheap" leafy greens, mushrooms etc that cant be sold due to contamination.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

spidapig24: or they feed the beef to the pigs... what are the farmers to do with the cattle now?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a mess. No more Fukushima Gyu. Is the supply chain safe now? I doubt it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

NOTHING from that area should be shipped or sold without undergoing proper testing. It is unbelievable that they didn't put such safeguards into play 4 months ago! They seem to only be handling these cases as they turn up instead of actually putting procedures in place to minimize the risk of contaminated food being consumed by people in Japan. People need to stand up and protest. The government has done very little to protect its citizens after such a disaster. Shameful!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Very interesting interview on BBC, they said that because of BSE the cattle industry is the best regulated so the tracking of the meat is quite easy. Whereas pigs, chicken, and fish the tracking will be much harder and the report also said the next month or so should see more of this type of issue.

Yet the Japanese government minister says it will only be an issue if you eat it every day but if you only eat a little bit you should not have long term affects. Wow thanks for that reassuring news l can really sit down to eat my tea now feeling so much more at ease.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have a concern with Niigata and Tochigi prefecures having radioactive foodstuff and teas that we know of, there could be more prefectures with radioactive consumables. J Govt is not saying how far the radiation is spreading and a what levels consumables are being contaminated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In case you were thinking it's safe to go back into your local super, this from the BBC :

Is it likely that chicken and pork have also been affected?

After the mad cow disease scare regulations were ramped up on beef cattle. From start to finish the process of where the meat comes from and where it goes is closely monitored. However, pigs, chicken and fish are much less regulated. That is causing worries that radiation could be detected in these food products in the months to come.

There's no escape. If you live here over the next few years, you'll be eating a fair amount of cesium-contaminated food.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BBC.co.uk said "More than four months on from the earthquake, radioactive material continues to escape from the facility (Fukushima Dai-Ichi)". When will the so very nice, intelligent people in Japan realize that the radiation is such a serious problem?

People's lives are going to be hurt because people are not being told enough of the truth, fast enough. This has been the case since the early days after the Tohoku Earthquake. Nothing is changing. The news keeps getting worse.

Young people are arriving in the USA in greater numbers because they are realizing the sad truths of the nuclear radiation situation. I am learning that people in Japan do not like to talk about bad or sad things. But many people are doing what they should -- they are leaving!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

if its not clear to all now let me spell out which no Japanese ever wanted to believe.

THERE NEVER HAS BEEN AN ACTUAL SYSTEM FOR TESTING FOODSTUFFS IN JAPAN!

So how on earth could anyone have expected them to start after 3/11.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thanks stupid Japanese government! Thanks for messing up our lives!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

NOTHING from that area should be shipped or sold without undergoing proper testing.

Yup. It's the only right thing to do for both producers and consumers. The farmers who depend on selling product for their living can sell if their products are safe and the customer can have confidence that their food isn't tainted. This is not rocket science.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When will the so very nice, intelligent people in Japan realize that the radiation is such a serious problem?

How insulting! What do you think everyone here has been doing since March 11? Do you think we are docile sheep?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Just an interesting quote that l found about food safety in Japan and radioactive contamination.

So the foods which exceed these levels are regulated to ensure those foods are not supplied to the public to eat, and local governments have been notified by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on 2011 March 17.

This quote is from the Japanese Food safety Commision. Its also interesting to note that since March there have been 7436 test conducted on various foods from all over Japan. Of those tests 440 have returned higher than acceptable readings for radiation contamination. With the affected prefectures being Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka.

I guess based on the above quote and the reports this week the system isnt working.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am seriuosly asking myself now why we never see or get any food from Russia being the country next door. If it is just because of these Kuril islands, then, maybe it is time to wake up and forget that story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do you think we are docile sheep?

A lot of people do.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I am seriuosly asking myself now why we never see or get any food from Russia being the country next door. If it is just because of these Kuril islands, then, maybe it is time to wake up and forget that story.

Snickers are produced in Russia, actually (been paying much more attention to food labels recently) :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ wnagler1

Young people are arriving in the USA in greater numbers because they are realizing the sad truths of the nuclear radiation situation. I am learning that people in Japan do not like to talk about bad or sad things. But many people are doing what they should -- they are leaving!!!

Thank Goodness, cause really there is just too much to watch out for, the environmental hazards are spreading and who knows when everything will get under control.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs Geoffrey Wiggin Discusses Food Security http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qnLek-hSG8&feature=player_detailpage#t=227s

"So, what does that mean for you as consumers? It means that if you go into your supermarket to buy produce, it's almost certainly....I won't say certainly, but you know.... safe, because it's not only you cannot get product which has been contaminated from the regions which have been affected, but the private sector entities are going well beyond what the government is telling them to do, and simply not putting on the shelves products which even come from Fukushima or the affected prefectures"

Granted, this was from 3/25, and was specifically talking about produce, but I can't help but wonder about how the system (both government, and private sector) let us down, and turned Mr. Wiggin into a liar.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I beg you all please read this and learn. It is from maff the people measuring all export products andpublishing the results.......... I haveposted this here before but no one reads it,. Just go here http://www.maff.go.jp/e/seisan/meat_inspection/index.html

6 ( +6 / -0 )

http://www.maff.go.jp/e/seisan/meat_inspection/index.html<><>http://www.maff.go.jp/e/seisan/meat_inspection/index.html<>

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Is this a comedy?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Other livestock can only be declared unsafe after stocks have been exhausted.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I beg you all please read this and learn. It is from maff the people measuring all export products andpublishing the results.......... I haveposted this here before but no one reads it,. Just go here http://www.maff.go.jp/e/seisan/meat_inspection/index.html

Very good information. It looks like they've actually been doing sampling on lots of different products since the quake. I guess the "bad" farms (even results within the same Minamisoma-shi, looked pretty low until recently)

Anyway, I guess I would prefer they had simply enforced this ban earlier, rather than playing "Battleship" for contaminated areas, but I guess hind-sight is 20/20. Easy for me to say, as I have been living on a pretty stick foreign-produced diet these past few months.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Dog: Is that a rhetorical question?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Too little, too late!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Same sort of info but for dairy

Please read this .. Begging you

http://www.maff.go.jp/e/seisan/milk_inspection/rawmilk.html This should be common knowledge.. Bookmark it and stay up to date don't wait for headlines

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And for fish http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/e/inspection/index.html

http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/e/inspection/index.htmlhttp://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/e/inspection/index.html

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I just read that jdpapas. A bit confusing. Lots of ND, and numbers in Tokyo when listed appear high.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan has not set up a centralized system to check vegetables and meat for radiation, relying instead on testing carried out by local authorities.

Relying on local authorities, which have a vested interest in protecting their own local economies, is not a recipe for effective testing and control. Everyone knows it's easier to apologize than ask for permission. The Fukushima prefectural government said it was sorry it hadn't been clearer in giving the instructions regarding feed to its farmers. Then it said communication was also difficult because of gas shortages and blocked roads. Er...telephone? Fax? As others have said, just wait for the chicken and pork scandals, they won't be long in coming. The Government needs to set up a centralized system that promises compensation for destroyed livestock in order to dissuade farmers from sneaking their produce into the market.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@The data base is easy to interpret. Nothing confusing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Kan said, “I feel the responsibility for not being able to prevent this from happening and I am very sorry,”

Does anybody actually run this country? I guess he was just too busy with Hatoyama and Ozawa crawling up his rectum to give sh!t about what was actually going on in the country. How many people do they actually have working on this nuclear crisis? Half a dozen? Less? - 4 months after the fact and after 650 odd head of cesium enriched beef cattle have been consumed they jump in and ban it? It is a swearing joke!!!

Also, I guess TEPCO's compensation bill just got extended by a couple of hundred million bucks. Wait until the people who ate this tainted crap start to develop illnesses from it. Glad I have purposely stayed away from any Japanese meat products.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bar none, the Japanese government is the most inept government of any industrialized nation today.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The headlines and way this whole issue is presented would have us believe the problem is people's fears. This would mean if we weren't afraid, there would be no problem. This is a total and deliberate distortion. The problem is radiation levels and the public health threat they present, whether or not people are aware and educated about the significance of this. The problem is lack of reliable and timely information. The problem is lack of government protection of everyone's health. People's fears are only a problem for the PR arm of the nuclear industry that would have us go quietly into their radioactive future, like sheep to the slaughter.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@ATCF: Bang on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bar none, the Japanese government is the most inept government of any industrialized nation today.

Yeah, except for Italy/Spain/Greece/Portugal and several others.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@Smokian, you seemed to miss the 'industrialized' part of the observation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Open letter to the experts:

As a father who has evacuated his wife and children from the Fukushima mess I would like to share a couple of insights that will hopefully inform the debate, or lack of one that has been raging:

1 – We don’t know – this is a simple admission, but one that seems to be very difficult for the administration and the so called experts that have visited the villages and towns of Fukushima and Miyagi to reassure us. We don’t know because nothing like this has ever happened before – forget Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Windscale – the timeline, location, climate, topography, wind patterns, ground water systems – are all unique.

2 – We can’t tell – the authorities have simply not taken systematic readings. Air, water and soil samples were not taken in the areas that mattered. We have no benchmark, because samples were not taken prior to the tragedy, the Speedy sensor system failed immediately after the earthquake due to inadequate electricity back up. There are no future projections of radioactive contamination or the isotopes that are involved and no model on which to base them.

3 – We can’t wait – the fact that livestock are receiving more attention than the children in the region is a disgrace. If we had contemplated the scene of our children attending contaminated schools wearing dosimeters on March 10th, it would have been seen as unbelievable. It is still not too late – internal radioactivity is not just for life – it will be passed onto our children’s children and so on down the line – cesium will remain in the environment for approximately 150 years - as a parent that is an unforgivable neglect and we all know that.

Admit we don’t know, accept we can’t tell and act now, move the children out and provide them with a chance at a future. Let’s turn our minds to how to make the evacuation an opportunity for them, rather than ringing our hands over whether we should.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tea from south of Tokyo is contaminated? Is that an indicator that there are very few areas in Kanto where the produce can be considered safe without testing? That's going to be a massive amount of work.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Miya: Many of us here, living with families in Japan, with young children and / or infants, have said from very early on that the whole population in the areas affected have to be gotten out. I and others from the very start agreed with the United States assertion that 80km should be the minimal evacuation zone --something which they failed to demand under political pressures-- we saw the event unfolding as the slow dark nightmare that it is, stood at its feet knowing it was a worst case scenario and should be approached as such. This hasn't happened. It's appalling. All I can say is get out and THEN look to help others. Act. Now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Please everyone watch this,

http://www.nippon-sekai.com/main/articles/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-crisis/nhk-special-japans-nuclear-crisis-part-2/

Omaemona has a direct link right from their post. Watch this recent NHK special [http://bit.ly/mTiWOZ] and it should make anyone realize how the ones who are supposed to be in charge of insuring the public's safety have been asleep at the wheel.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No doubt many more will be moving with the ban on exports from the prefecture closing in, which presents a crisis situation for not only the health of children but the livelihoods of farmers and fisherman that are blocked from shipment. The rallying cry to save the reputation of agricultural products and seafood from Fukushima is more of a hollow plea at this point with a situation beyond repair that seems to be getting considerably worse each day.

By the same token, monitoring for thyroid cancer, which is extremely treatable if caught early and rarely results in death, is hardly "being denied a future." All of Fukushima cannot be a mandatory evacuation zone, but I agree that at least the government should help evacuate the children, or do more to bring down the radiation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TEPCO did this, they made there surrounding environment of Daiichi a Bio-Hazard Zone for Multiple km.bTEPCO destroyed the Livelihood of farmers, fisherman and everybody else working and living in this Hot spot and Beyond. So yes in the face of reality in terms of public safety. Fukushima should be made into a No Go Zone and we maybe looking at other prefectures that need to be made as such as this crisis continues.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So...have they started checking the milk and cheese, and butter as well? You know that's next right? After that will probably be rice. And what are the chickens being fed? Scratch poultry and eggs off the list as well. The government needs to start putting serious measures in place to check all food being shipped from the affected areas. INCLUDING the repackaged goods! No more "well we thought it was Shizuoka tea but they threw some Fukushima tea leaves in it and forgot to write it down".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

[http://bit.ly/mTiWOZ]

Got this from Utrack Excellent set of videos.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ ihavegreatlegs

Here's part one: Kaieda and TEPCO officials had some interesting things to say in these series of video interviews with Nippon Hoso Kyokai.

http://goo.gl/jeytn

The overall impression that I got after watching the whole thing was "blind leading the blind"

I went to Omaemona page and picked it up. It's too deep that the J Govt did not follow through and do initial testing for radiation after the explosion (s) at Daiichi. There are hot spots 160km away from there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks Buzz for the stats. Very helpful. Kind of confirms what a lot of people were worried about. This disaster will reveal many more horrible truths. I feared seaweed was another thing to watch out for. Now we have to be weary of the shops for mislabeling goods (which happens a lot), and the government lack of action.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm only going to eat frozen chinese gyoza, has to be safer

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The problem with a ban on Fukushima products is that there are contaminated products in Ibaraki and other neighbouring prefectures as far south as Shizuoka. If the tea is contaminated and the hay is contaminated then everything else must also be contaminated. The government should at least have banned consumption of anything within 150 kilometres or so from the first day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Someone above asked whether the hay has been distributed outside the prefecture. I'd be astonished if it hasn't. The cattle were conveniently dispersed throughout the entire country it what must have been deliberate attempts to obfuscate the contamination problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan on Tuesday suspended cattle shipments from Fukushima Prefecture on fears of radiation-tainted beef in the country’s meat distribution chain, four months after a nuclear accident in the region.

This is a very serious problem with the central government. Too late to report the accident of Fukushima Dai’ichi power plants. Too naïve in understanding the scale of nuclear crisis—the government initially reported category 5, and didn’t raise the level to 7 until late April regardless of hydrogen explosions in all four reactors. They are apparently clueless about how the amount of radiation substances released from the crippled power plants can pose health and environmental hazards on local business. The wind carried radiation materials (i.e., Cesium, iodine) away from Fukushima, and already affected the farmers in other prefecture, such as Shizuoka where a local farmer found contaminated green tea leaves. Stop putting your heads into the sand! Face the fact. Enough is enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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