Smelt in Gunma lake four times over new legal radiation limit


The first case of food that exceeds the government's new radioactive cesium limits has been reported in Gunma Prefecture.

Lake Onuma in Maebashi, famous for its Japanese smelt fishing, was the source of the fish that reportedly tested 426 becquerels per kilo, Fuji TV reported Wednesday. The amount of radiation registered is more than four times the new maximum limit of 100 becquerels per kilo, with many local governments reportedly choosing to set their own limits far lower.

Local authorities say the smelt was tested on March 28. They added that the smelt fishing season has now ended, and that fishing for smelt is now banned.

Meanwhile, shiitake mushrooms in Miyagi Prefecture and bamboo shoots in Chiba Prefecture were also found to have levels of radioactive cesium over the new limits, the health ministry said Wednesday.

Shiitake mushrooms grown in Murata, Miyagi, contained 350 becquerels of radioactive cesium, while bamboo shoots grown in the Chiba towns of Kisarazu and Ichihara had 120 becquerels, Fuji TV reported.

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Okay, so the tests were done last week and found out that it was highly dangerous ...

Do I hear closures or cleanup? Do I hear a product recall? Do I hear investigations as to where the produce may have been distributed to? Do I hear any promises to health or damage claims?

I guess not ... the fishing season has already ended.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Isn't this just the best news? Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your local supermarket (play jaws theme). More than a year after the disaster we are now learning that there has been little to no testing in place and things seem too be just as bad as most of us thought. There has also been reports since Sunday of Shitake, bamboo shoots ect all being well over the government limits and being farmed from as far as 360km from Fukushima.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I`m not surprised by this article at all. As long as the Fukushima reactors is sitting there, this problem will continue to be spread all over Japan. I guess Gunma is not a safe place to be right now. Lucky I no longer live there.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The inexorable spread of radiation continues yet it is incredible that there is not any centralized testing in effect. All the testing is being carried out by local authorities or private citizens. Testing too late and too little is putting the health of the people at risk. Produce from Japan will become tainted to such an extent that radioactive inspections will have to become mandatory. If they do not then Japanese agriculture will die out.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Anyone else smelt a rat in all this?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I agree with kurisupisu!!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It has only been one year, during which absolutely no containment has been done (Chernobyl was stopped spewing radioactive materials in six months). News like these are long overdue, and proper action is extremely slow for a modern nation.

It may sound extremely harsh for comfort-loving-history-denying people, but vigilance in supermarkets will have to continue for many years, especially now that JA Hyogo was caught relabelling rice (, and many more cases will undoubtedly emerge.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Well, the people are forgetting. Remember, in the minds of most, there is still this state of denial. Better just to let time go on and allow people to get back to their lives. After all, it's all that they have left. It's the one thing that makes them not feel bad.

Spring is coming, cherry blossoms are here. For them, Japan is beautiful again. The people devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster are no longer in the spotlight. Out of sight, out of mind.

Women are the first to forget. Thinking about wedding days, vacations and / or having children is still the priority. The government knows this very well. So long as the lights are on everybody is happy.

Nobody wants to think about contaminated food. That would make life stressful. Everyday at the supermarket would be a pain. We'd have to ask questions and the staff who are uninformed don't have the answers. So they will eat.

They'll eat it poisoned or not.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japanese government is always about covering things up so that its population doesn't panic. And I don't know if you have noticed but Tokyo people seem to be the most disconnected bunch in the world. Never have I seen a group that lives content in its superficial bubble. Out of sight out of mind. Even though Fukushima is less that 300 km away as long as the news doesn't report on it on TV, the world is a happy place. It makes me sick to see what those in control do - creating a brainwashed mass to go to work for insanely long hours. Even Soviet Russia did something about Chernobyl and thats saying something. In about 5 years, there is going to be thousands of kids with Thyroid cancer and because there was no definite testing done (to cover the tracks of those in control now), they will just say that there is no way to prove that the thyroid cancer is connected to Fukushima. Oh my gods, this makes me so mad.

4 ( +8 / -4 )


Sure, it is ONLY the Japanese government that does it. NO other country does/did the same. Doh.

BTW, the new japanese food radiation standards are 5-6 times lower than the EU and US ones. US & EU permits food to be sold at 1200 berquel/kg.

As for chernobyl that is whole different case as the reactor actually blew up and thus we had radiation as far away as western europe.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I wish they would be a little more specific on their supermarket products as to the origin. For example, carrots that just say "chiba". If they could say "Chiba + the area" - and we could know from a regularly updated list of previously tested-and-found-to-have-problems areas - it would mean the consumers would know what is and is not likely to be safe, and the prefectural governments (such as Fukushima and now it may appear Gunma) would not have to write off their entire prefectural produce because of fear.

Its not a perfect solution - some products absorp radiation more than others - but it would still be a step up on what is going on right now.

New school year starts tomorrow. School dinners begin again from next week. My daughter will be going in with bentos until they can confirm the safety of the food. And any bullying or other nonsense - ill keep her home and teach her here. I am done with this.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

as a flyjin, i wanna return home to japan, but I don't know. maybe i'll stay away for a bit longer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We've known about this for the past few months in Gunma. You were allowed to fish during the season but not able to take the fish home and eat them. I guess it takes a while for the news to dribble out. The info was always there, it's just that no one bothered to make a big deal out of it until now.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is indeed an unfortunate smelting incident.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"They added that the smelt fishing season has now ended, and that fishing for smelt is now banned."

Yes...good idea to wait until the end of the season.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Announcing this after the fact is as usual, then it's regrettable and poses no threat to health. At what point do you become alarmed. Regularly these stories appear and are treated as one offs but combined it's a pattern that can't end well. All because of corruption and a complete lack of transparency and accountability. One year on and the Government response is as pathetic as day one.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It seems that JA Hyogo most likely got the rice from Iwate at a cheap price and sneakily hoped to sell it on at a higher price.It seems (according to the link) that a customer complained about the relabeling. No penalties for falsifying information is mentioned in the article. It seems that the days of kokunai San being trustworthy are over.

Some posters point out that limits on radioactivity are higher than other countries and while that might the case, I have yet to see the blatant disregard of set limits and continued spread of radioactivity as is the case in Japan.

A year after the damaged reactors are still not contained and are spewing radiation continually into the environment.

That is sending levels up by the all living organisms.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

After a little research i found that EU regs were at 600 becquerels per kilo (about 380 for milk) and have risen to "almost double" no figure but one kind of sensationalist looking site said 12500 becquerels per kilo, not sure if i believe that.

It seems the Japanese level is way lower than others so i wonder if it is us worrying about an amount too little or the EU has set a limit way too high? This stuff is really confusing. I wish there was a more conclusive understanding so we know whether to worry or not. Until then I will just live as normal because I'm sure the worry of earthquakes and radiation and things that might happen will certainly shorten your life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Japanese limit is just stupid. Some foods have higher natural radiation levels. Just because it is measurable, does not mean it is remotely close to being significantly harmful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nicky, I've been thinking exactly same thing! It's clear it is enormous amount for the government or any organization to measure everything. But it should be possible to faithfully label the exact origin of the produce so we can make our choices.

Most of the Japanese I speak to are not worried about food. They just say "well if you have kids better be careful, but anybody above 40 should not worry..."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They added that the smelt fishing season has now ended, and that fishing for smelt is now banned. Oh okay then.

How about banning the other things? How about some transparency and a nice website of all the products that are deemed unsafe and where they are from.

Too little, too late. And really, "too little"? They haven't even done anything. This country really, really doesn't get it.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

The days of government etc. saving face over news items needs to stop....when the genetic damage occurs over the next few decades becomes obvious Japan will go..oh so sorry I guess we should have done more...after our babies babies have an extra arm for example....The incompetance of Tepco is only exaserbated by the same in the goverment

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ zichi I don't know much about how much radiation is still entering the atmosphere from the disabled NPP's But even at very low levels doesn't the contamination still settle to the ground an accumulate into higher concentration??...Also doesn't this contamination that falls onto fresh water lakes fall to the lake bottom and concentrate there?? You seem to be up to speed on allot of info concerning the NPP's...Any thoughts on the affect of small amounts of of contaminates building up over a few years of seepage?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I really dislike the attitude: "Smelt season is over. Nothing to see here. Go back to work. All is fine."

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The main reason is that Tepco is still dumping Boric acid into the damaged reactor vessels which are showing increasing temperatures up to a reported 100 degrees Celsius ! This shows that water cooling is insufficient to cool the fuel which can no longer be in containment. The other reason is the water courses around the plant show extremely high levels of radiation which shows there is a release happening. Also, the tent construction over the plant is to allow release of radiation over a wider area-not to entrap it. So, taking these facts into account we can see that the reactors are not contained in any meaningful way yet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well, if all of the people here would read the post of Sophie Shimizu above, they might understand that the way of presenting news is more often than not one-sided and looking for sensations. I just remembered the catch phrase of a Japanese “mystery” TV program 信じるか信じないか、あなた次第です (Believe it or not – all is up to you.) Being careful is indeed recommendable but worrying about everything you read will certainly shorten your life and probably will do so faster than the radiation in food. But like everything in life, it is a personal choice so it is up to you to decide whether to believe what the media give you or double- and triple-check the credibility of what we read.

And I used to thing that critical thinking was not thought in Japanese schools only…

Zichi, thank you for your posts above. It is indeed refreshing to read some sober opinions.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Move on people, nothing to see here nor anything you can do about it.

Get on with your lifes and live every day to the fullest, we might die tomorrow in a car accident, hit by a beer-glass, etc. All this belly-aching does nothing except shorten your life-expectancy and causes unneeded stress.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

This is the beginning of the end.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Ok, so they have a contaminated lake in Gunma and contaminated mushroom farms in southern Chiba. That is quite a large distance between. Does that mean the contamination is so widely spread and is hushed?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What the acceptable radiation limits are and should be is completely irrelevant as long as tests are not being done or their results are falsified or ignored on purpose.

Zichi, the KEK radiation meters in Tsukuba show an increase in radiation levels around the new year. Did you hear about it in the news? I found not a word. It is difficult ascertain the extend of contamination when Tepco's and J-gov's highest priority is to control the flow of information, not of contamination.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

On this link

There is also a PDF doc from Tepco there most of the charts are showing rises on 16/17 march Celsius is on the left axis

If the fuel were being cooled then why are there spikes?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

People seem to be assuming that the fish have become contaminated recently. The fish are swimming in waters that became contaminated at the time when the initial accident occurred, feeding on insects and plants which became contaminated by that original fallout. The concentration of radioactive material will increase as you go up the food chain. There's no reason to suppose that Gunma has received any new fallout recently.

Having said that, this article is another example of inadequate testing throughout Honshu. I am amazed that all the prefectural governments don't appear to have performed extensive testing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Interesting that the High radiation waste water is reported in metric tons..1 metric tons equals 1000 liters and 10,000 MT is equal to 10,000,000 liters of waste water or about 2,640,000 US gallons..Multiply time 12 months plus a few other reported large releases of waste water i9nto the pacific is significant, equal to well over 31,680,000 gallons of radioactive waste..This has got to be doing massive damage to the marine environment east of japan and far into the Pacific Ocean.. In Alaska we are very concerned about the possible damage salmon returning from the western pacific areas and also to highly migratory fishes such as Sable fish..We ship vast amounts of salmon,sable and ground fish species to Japan each year..It is a huge part of the Alaskan economy. I hope the dumping of this radioactive waste will be stopped soon.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

" They added that the smelt fishing season has now ended, and that fishing for smelt is now banned."

How convenient in terms of timing. And my guess is they're not trying to recall any smelt that have already been shipped and/or sold.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Oh Smith and what? Cause consumer panic and harmful rumours? Best to let it go and look the other way.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The only things which will wake people up are birth defects, radiation linked cancers and heart damage in young people. Until then it will be a case of "dont be a panic monger and eat up your radioactive greens".

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Readers, please focus your comments on the smelt in the Gunma lake.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The smelt in the lake…....I am trying to focus my comments but it is hard.....

I realize that the smelt in the lake might be turned away from hospitals in Japan if their malaise could be related to the nuclear plants' radioactivity. I m also of the opinion that they (collectively-being Japanese smelt) could file a claim against Tepco for damages.

Maybe Tama chan has a claim.?

Oops! Sorry Tama chan is off topic....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The title says over the new legal limit.

Since the govt has just made the limit much more severe, it is natural that things which passed before wiill now show up as over the limit.

It is not as if anything has suddenly become radioactive, or as if no-one was checking before and why have they only just discovered it now?

Sounds to me as if the new ststem is working, and with luck it will show up further food products which do not meet the new harsher limits.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This only the beginning I'm afraid. We'll hear of more contaminated food and water as the months and years go by. The unlucky children will develop Thyroid cancer, and only then, when it's too late, will the J-gov issue any warnings to have compulsory testing of the population and make Fukushima prefecture off limits.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have been reading for a year about these situations that keep getting swept under the carpet. This smelt situation will only be forgotten and then the next food will be banned and then the next. I for one believe the Japanese government has to start taking a proactive footing. Although I don't know what can be done, that is anyones guess. They just have to stop pretending that it doesn't exist or they can't truly help those that are in need. What about the smelt fisherman? Where is his job now? Or the bamboo shoot farmer? If Toyota can make a robot that can dance and the government can make highways to no where, they can start coming up with a new way to deal with this horrible problem.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Does that mean the contamination is so widely spread and is hushed?

I dont know about hushed, but I think the problem with the contamination is that it is not in a neat concentric circle. So you cant take this lake in Gunma, move the same distance around the diameter with dai-ichi as the pivot point, and get the same contamination levels somewhere else. There seems to be a generally north west-going plume and then "spots" over a huge wide area - of which this lake is probably one. In addition, certain products absorp radiation more than others. Then you also have naturally irradiated foods like mushrooms and bananas - but it is the isotope itself and its RBE that is the question, not the becquerel level itself (within reasonable levels obviously).

This is why I feel sorry for some of these prefectures like Gunma, Tochigi and Iberaki - they will have produce in our local supermarket that is probably fine, but because it is simply labelled with "Gunma" (for example) - I feel compelled to avoid it if I can (thinking of my children). OR I can of course trust that the local government are doing their job and preventing the contaminated produce from reaching the shelves - but sorry if that option doesnt fill me with confidence.

If the authorities had come clean right from the very beginning, they could have avoided this massive trust issue now which I am certain in the long term is going to cost them far more.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

tmarie: "Oh Smith and what? Cause consumer panic and harmful rumours? Best to let it go and look the other way."

You're right, of course. We ought to think of the poor smelt farmers and ingest the fish to 'share the burden'.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Of course Smith! What else would we do? Ban certain foods for the public safety? Haha!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Nicky W - I agree with you. It must be awful for the farmers who are tarred with the same brush as those from areas which are genuinely contaminated to toxic levels, but a parent's loyalty extends primarily to his/her children.

As long as there is doubt - and the last year of mismanagement of this shambolic catastrophe had spread nothing but doubt - those of us with children have an obligation to seek out food with as little risk of contamination as possible. I'm afraid I am not prepared to risk the health of my children for the sake of a pantomime of "sharing the burden".

Particularly when none of the rich old men who gave us this burden to bear have suffered one iota of hardship.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Very good point Tossov (great name BTW!) - you can bet that the suits in charge of this mess can afford only the very finest in imported foods, delivered directly to their holiday homes far far away from the mess they have caused.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

How long do smelt live?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How long do smelt live? Well, until they are caught for eating I suppose. We are talking about food-fishing here, I believe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ONCE AGAIN , What is NEW????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So have they even bothered to ban if for next year or will this be a groundhog day like it was with the rice?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )


Would you please read the post of Sophie Suzuki above and eventually get to understand that this particular situation is not as bad as you continue thinking it is.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Not as bad as I think it is? Food that has been sold that is over limits for radiation isn't "as bad"? Sophi points out about the locals who fish. No mention of the mushrooms nor the bamboo. What about companies who have sold these items? And why are WE just finding out now if the locals in that area knew this for a while? Sorry, it is as bad as I continue to think it is. Feel free to think all is fine when clearly, it is not.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

tmarie, as has been pointed out above, the article is about these new stricter J gov limits pulling up things which would be fine in the US or Europe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As in: the previous Japanese upper limit was 500. (Compared to a much looser 1,200 +/- abroad)

Now the upper limit has been lowered to a super strict 100, so naturally something of 400 will show up.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tmarie, as has been pointed out above, the article is about these new stricter J gov limits pulling up things which would be fine in the US or Europe.

I'm glad some of you have faith in the government here. I don't. I don't believe the numbers, don't believe that things that are knowingly over the limit will not be sold to the public. Sorry innocent farmers but my family's safety comes first and nothing from Tohoku knowing makes its way into my grocery cart or into my mouth.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

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