Japanese Government Plans to Boost Measures to Tackle Reputational Damage to Businesses Linked to Fukushima Release

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, second from right, hands a letter to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura in Fukushima City on Tuesday.

The government plans to boost measures to tackle reputational damage to businesses linked to the release from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of treated water into the ocean, which is scheduled to start Thursday.

At a meeting Tuesday, relevant Cabinet ministers confirmed that measures were needed to protect businesses impacted by the release and vowed to continue providing assistance.

There are concerns that consumers will be reluctant to buy foods from Fukushima and nearby prefectures when the discharge starts, which could force producers to lower the prices of farming and fisheries products.

To mitigate such problems, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry established in December an organization comprising public and private sector entities, such as supermarket chains and wholesalers, and will seek their cooperation to prevent purchase reluctance and price declines of such foods.

Since last year, the ministry has encouraged more than 1,000 companies and organizations to serve fisheries products from the northern Pacific Coast regions of Sanriku and Joban in office cafeterias to support businesses from regions affected by the nuclear disaster. More measures are expected when the release of treated water starts.

The government will also utilize an ¥80 billion fund to promote products from the region in overseas markets if countries implement import restrictions.

In July, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura indicated the government would offer support before the release of treated water if businesses suffered reputational damage.

According to sources, the government is mulling measures to tackle the rapid fall in the price of scallops in Miyagi Prefecture.

“The government will play a key role in the medium- to long-term, standing on the side of local people affected [by the nuclear disaster],” said Nishimura, who met Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori on Tuesday.