(Corrects second paragraph to say Nihonmatsu city is west of
the Fukushima nuclear plant, not east)
TOKYO, Sept 24 Japan found the first case of
rice with radioactive materials far exceeding a government-set
level for a preliminary test of pre-harvested crop, requiring
thorough inspection of the rice to be harvested from the region,
the farm ministry said late on Friday.
The ministry said radioactive caesium of 500 becquerels per
kg was found in a sample of the pre-harvested rice in Nihonmatsu
city, in Fukushima Prefecture, 56 km (35 miles) west of the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which was crippled by the March
11 earthquake and tsunami, triggering the world's worst nuclear
disaster in 25 years.
The ministry said the Fukushima Prefecture will expand the
inspection spots nearly ten-fold to around 300 areas.
It is the first case in Japan of rice containing radioactive
caesium exceeding 200 becquerels per kg, a level which requires
further thorough testing of the area for the harvested rice.
The government introduced inspection guidelines in August,
with preliminary tests followed by more before approving
If preliminary tests found rice to contain radioactive
caesium levels of 200 becquerels per kg or more, the crop will
be tested more thoroughly before approvals are made for
If the level of caesium in rice exceeded the
government-imposed cap of 500 becquerels per kg, shipments from
locally produced rice will be halted.
So far, no rice crop has been banned for shipments.
If the follow-up tests of rice harvested from Nihonmatsu
city find radioactive materials exceeding the government-imposed
cap, it would deal a huge blow to Japan.
The country has been struggling to regain public trust in
the safety of nuclear power so it can resume operations of
nuclear reactors to supply energy as well as food safety after
wide-ranging products from water to vegetables were found with
(Reporting by Chikako Mogi; Editing by Sugita Katyal)