'Radioactive rice' joke causes trouble for Tokai Television


Tokai Television Broadcasting Co Ltd has responded to the scandal caused by a joke about radioactive rice that appeared on one of its programs, "Pecan Television," on Aug 4. The program featured a segment in which a guest won rice grown in Iwate Prefecture. As the prize was awarded, the message "Beware, the rice could be radioactive" appeared on-screen for around 23 seconds, causing an outcry from viewers as well as rice growers in Iwate Prefecture.

Since the program was aired, it is believed that of the show's 20 sponsors, five backed out of their sponsorship deals and 12 requested that their commercials not be aired during the show anymore. A spokesperson for Tokai TV said the show received 15,000 complaints by phone and email between Aug 4 and 11.

Meanwhile, the company president, Sekiya Asano, held a news conference on Thursday night and announced that the show would be axed as a result of the joke, which he agreed had been in bad taste.

The network later released a statement saying that the director and producer of "Pecan Television" had been suspended for five days following the incident, and that Asano will receive a 50% pay cut for three months. Eight other members of staff involved in the making of the program are also to be disciplined, Tokai said.

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“Beware, the rice could be radioactive”

purpose served, penalty point is secondary.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"As the prize was awarded, the message “Beware, the rice could be radioactive” appeared on-screen for around 23 seconds, causing an outcry from viewers as well as rice growers in Iwate Prefecture."

As tasteless as the 'joke' was, as most jokes are it is in part true.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is why I don't believe in levity on the job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't get it. There is a high probability that Iwate new rice is contaminated. We will never know for sure as it is unlikely TEPCO, JA or the government would admit it. So saying "it could" is quite valid. This is another case of the Japanese way of burying their heads in the sand.

5 ( +10 / -5 )


Read the news:

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This same nonsense happens everywhere just because a few people don't like a joke. A few people start to complain and then the sponsors get scared and then everyone scrambles to apologize. Now are all disaster jokes taboo? Just wait it out and the complainers go away. Protect your talent and protect free speech no matter how tasteless - in some people's opinions - it is.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

he show would be axed as a result of the joke, which he agreed had been in bad taste.

Censorship is a serious affront to those of us who value liberty. And if we are going to die early from eating Japanese food, at least we should be able to joke about it. Laughter is good for the mind and body, I am not sure about Japan.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Sometimes jokes are the only education people get.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It might turn out to be true. The J-goverment tested many batches of Iwate rice for radiation. What is the result from the test? Does anybody know? What about the Sake, which is made from rice? Any radiation problem in Sake? or Kirin Ichiban beer with both corn and rice added?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This article kind of mis-characterizes what happened. The on-screen text showing information about the prize mistakenly used a "placeholder" version that some flunky in the production department whipped up for a practice run; he apparently never got around to making the official broadcast version with the proper text, and no one caught the oversight prior to the show. So it was hardly a case of the program trying to make a joke of something--but rather, an employee with a seriously misplaced sense of humor who wasn't doing his job properly. Censorship and free speech issues have little to do with it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sometimes jokes are the only education people get.

Exactly, I didn't know that the rice was radiated . . . if it wasn't for this "offensive joke" I would not check labels next time when I shop. I can just imagine future textbooks in Japan: there was no radiation problem, the islands are Japan's, WW2 was a skirmish started by America, "these are not the droids you are looking for"

2 ( +4 / -2 )

We like many others won't buy rice from this years harvest. Local stock and prices are going up.

Said that we also do eat a fair amount of Thai-rice(long grain), we get it at 5kg for 1.900-2.590Yen depending on shop and Brand. Basmati will set you back 5.000+Yen for 5kg.

Alternatives are out there for the people willing to take them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

shirokuma2011: "Censorship and free speech issues have little to do with it."

And yet, the statement that it could be contaminated is no less false, is it? How about the show take back the rice prize and test it for radioactive elements? Nah, the prefectural government would ask them to keep it all quiet, just like with Shizuoka tea.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Censorship and free speech issues have little to do with it.

No, in the end the trouble is because of people being offended. Incompetence and faulty reports in the Japanese media are routine, and if that is all it were then the network wouldn't have to take countermeasures to appease that horrible disease called PC (politically correct).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@ It"S ME

Thanks for the link, it was a really Good article about the Rice Sampling the end of the article shocked me:

Shigehide Oki, a 61-year-old farmer near Tokyo, this week passed the first hurdle after a preliminary round of tests showed no trace elements of radioactive cesium, the main source of concern. Oki, who's been farming rice for 40 years in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, about 190 km south of the nuclear station.

"I was stunned when spinach grown in my area was found to be tainted," Oki said last week, while watching testers hack off rice stalks on his farm to carry out checks. "I had finished planting by then and the future suddenly looked very bleak."

If the spinach in his area is contaminated, I don't know but something sounds fishy here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The connection of Iwate rice is that the contaminated meat that is coming from cow were fed from rice staws grown in Iwate that were exposed to radiation. So how do you think rice is extracted from? From cleaning the staws. I would avoid any Iwate rice.

2 ( +4 / -2 )


Complaint for people telling the true?

japanese really like to take it from @%$^*&

just wow!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

“Pecan Television,”

What kind of program is that? Quiz show!? Anyway, it's so stupid. It's quite unlikely to get one if the rice is truly tainted with radioactive materials. The local farmers typically harvest and ship rice in fall--not spring.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was pure and simple a dumb ar#e thing to say/write regardless of it being true or not

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@smithnjapan--when were there problems with Shizuoka tea, just want to make sure it didn't happen when I was there

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Would it have been as bad if they made a joke about the tsunami? Like somebody who made to high ground and yet, seeing the tsunami coming declares they forgot to turn off the lights and runs back? The reaction would be bad, but probably not as bad since no money is involved. I mean, that isn't that the core of the issue here? Nobody has yet died because of the tainted food. But surely some people are going to die years younger than they should have. And is come of the rice tainted? Of course it is!

I imagine Germans appreciate jokes about Nazis about as much as farmers appreciate jokes about their products tainted by Tepco's blunder. Well, tough. Its everybody else that has to worry if their rice has radioactive caesium in it. And we deserve a joke to relieve the tension. And if you weren't tense and the joke just clued you in to the possibility, so much the better! In that the case the joke was a badly needed wake up call.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And oh yes! I thought it was funny!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If this "joke" gets people questioning the safety of rice in Japan from the coming harvest - then I believe it has served a good purpose. The scary thing is, 5 months after the disaster, there are still hardly any facilities to test food and rice here. Unless they start purchasing loads of testing machines from the Russians before Autumn, the amount of contaminated rice that could be released to the market is mind-boggling.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If that was intended to be a joke, it was in bad taste and stupid,because it hurt the feelings of those people who need encouragement instead of evil jokes. Yet if it was a well grounded warning, it should be taken more serously. But in this ambiguity it is no help at all.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Food testing and People testing could be carried out by the physicists at the local schools just like they do in Belarus. The area affected by the Chernobyl NPP.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah the joke was in poor taste. But A: 15000 complaints is not a lot for a TV show. B: cancel the show? really? I mean what happens to the other people that helped put the show together. They just go jobless? Too strict. I wonder if the joke was about another radiation affected place out side of japan, would the punishment have been so severe?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah the joke was in poor taste but A: 15000 complaints is not a lot for a TV show. B: Cancel the show? Really? What happens to all the other people that helped put the show together that had no say on what joke are used. So they just go jobless? I wonder if the joke was about another place that had contaminated food of some sort, would the punishment have been so severe?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BTW, the program was aired in FUJI TV, the Korean Television network of Japan. Not only that, when the Hiroshima atomic bombing was being celebrated, FUJI Korean TV Network had a show with one of the main actor wear a bright yellow dress with the writing FOOLS ON THE HILLS LITTLE BOY (the name of the atomic bomb). How low can FUJI TV get? Ask the Koreans, maybe they know.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

From another website, an interview with a reporter from Germany's ZDF Television. Said 35,000 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium, most likely] had been found in the soil of a rice paddy planted with rice, and asked if the government does any thorough check. Hosono [minister in charge of the nuclear accident] consulted with his staff for a very long time, and said they will confirm the number. He said the government will check the rice as they grow in the rice paddies. It's the rice paddy in Fukushima City. Fukushima City was OUTSIDE the evacuation zone of any kind, so the soil was apparently never tested by the prefectural government. The reporter asks the question in English, with a Japanese interpreter.

So maybe not a joke...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thanks for the info, wanderlust. Will check that site. I live in Fukushima City, and it seems "business as usual" for all the rice growers around here. Considering there are "hot-spots" of contaminated soil dotted all around here, you would think the authorities would be vigorous in testing the rice and paddies before harvest. The reality is, the Japanese simply do not have facilities to test much of the rice, so instead of acquiring the machines from overseas (they have had 5 MONTHS), they will likely just tell people "Fukushima rice is safe, nothing to see here." After all, it is easier in the short-term to do this. I won't be touching the stuff.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is the rice in Iwate safe or not? That is not a joke!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if they will trot out the kaiwaridaikon to take the hit for radiation like it did back in the 90s with dioxin, when it was reported in tea then that was PROMPTLY stopped, reporting ceased, then kaiwaridaikon too the heat!

There is going to be a lot of bad food out there, why on earth the govt hasnt banned rice from being harvested in Fukushima is mindboggling, just pay them to plow it under for petes sake!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Humour can have some excellent benefits.

It can show you a side of something that you hadn't looked at before.

It can lift you up out of the gloom.

But "humour" where one party laughs at the expense of another does neither of these things.

The crack on this TV show is not a joke.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What actually happened is that they failed to replace the pre-written text with the winners' names and broadcasted it as it was: "And the winner of 10kg suspicious rice is Mr. Cesium, The winner of poluted rice is Mrs. Cesium' etc. You can see the video on youtube: Check it out!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

guy called tokai tv and listen to their pathetic excuse :

FYI : the rice you buy this year is grown last year !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okay, let's say you've gone grocery shopping and leaving the supermarket, walking to your car during a fallout event. Radiation is coming down while you are walking, you are being exposed and so is the food. Gamma rays will go through everything but lead because of leads density.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, but most radioactive particles would be stopped by the food packaging as would they be by the storage containers in the warehouses.

Yes, very minor contamination would occur if at all. If the food is close enough to get exposed to gamma radiation you would die too very soon yourself unless you yourself wear a lead-suit 24/7/365.

Sorry, enough of your and ssway's scare-mongering here. Give it a rest.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nearly everthing is radioactive- there was probably enough naturally occuring Potassium-40 in the rice to measure it. They should have put the joke on everyone by pointing that out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This does not sound like a joke by an employee who was fooling around.

It sounds more like an intentional political message against the government by said employee.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's not scare-mongering it's a fact or else TEPCO would not have secured the areas of high radiation when they were found that is through testing that is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And why would TEPCO train 4000 workers to be Radiation measurement experts. If this was not a problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Unless you got verifiable sources, etc to back up your statements it is scare-mongering. Give me facts/links/data that I and others can verify via other sources if not ....

Sorry, people no longer believe what someone said that he heard from a bloke in the pub, etc. Till you can do that you and others are scare-mongering.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You know the scientific principle before anything becomes fact(as yet to be unproven wrong)? I has to be prove/verified by 3 other unbiased peer studies,

This is what people right now, not hear-says, etc but data that is proven and can be verified.

Anything else is scare......

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Radiation measurement experts trained

Excerpt: The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant plans to train about 4,000 workers as experts on the safety of irradiated areas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And the 4000 trained and paid by TEPCO analysis's will say it is safe to eat, just like the govt has said that all independent monitoring is irrelevant because it is inaccurate. And by the way, if you eat slightly contaminated rice every day, and vegetables and milk and meat and fish, it will multiply in your body. So don't think "slightly radioactive" is safe, as we are all constantly informed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

FYI : the rice you buy this year is grown last year !

yes & no, rice plants are heavy now & will be harvested Aug/Sep when the shin-mai comes out every year, thats going to start happening very soon hence the run on last years harvest!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just read this in Japantoday:

"Kyoto rejects ceremonial bonfire wood from Iwate over radiation fears."

It seems it is dangerous to burn wood from Iwate, but we cannot offend rice growers in this country: they are politically too powerful.

"Japanese rice is the best and safest in the world." Believe that if you want. If you are Japanese you may believe it. If you are a foreigner, you probably know better.

As far as I am concerned, if the wood is too dangerous to burn, the rice will be too dangerous to eat.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Okay I have not read anything about the actual measurements for the rice yet. The wheat has also been tested in Fukushima : Radioactive impact on wheat may be small

Excerpt: They found 280,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilograms in wheat leaves which had grown before the disaster and were exposed to the radiation from Fukushima. Meanwhile wheat grain which grew afterwards showed about 300 bequerels of cesium, or about one 1,000th of the cesium found in leaves.

So maybe next years crop will have less cesium, if Daiichi is under control and ALL the infected farmlands topsoil was replaced.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A handful of people in charge of condemning others which leads to the majority of the public doing so reminds me of the practices of Nazi Germany.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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