Rumors about radiation leaks in Japan are spreading like wildfire on the web as the Japanese government admitted last month that radioactively-contaminated underground water had flowed into the ocean for over two years since the Fukushima disaster.
It has also recently been found that highly radioactive water in the storage tanks in the region is being leaked to contaminate the sea, with the government failing to come up with appropriate countermeasures. No one can tell for now how severe things are and what the Japanese government is hiding, the consequence of which is the diffusion of the myth.
The rumors are scary indeed. Some people are asserting that 70% of the territory of Japan is contaminated with radioactivity and thus it is suicide to take a trip to Japan. Also, it is said that the Korean government has imported contaminated fish and farm produce from Japan to stabilize the price of agricultural and fisheries products like the pollack and mackerel. Some of the rumors are exaggerated and not true. Nevertheless, the consumption of agricultural and marine products has dropped, along with bookings for travel to Japan, and the related industries are heavily concerned.
The rumors feed on anxiety and distrust. Although the cause of the rumors was provided by the Japanese government in the first place, the Korean government should also be held accountable for their spread. Many people doubt that the latter is properly blocking the impact of the disaster that broke out in a neighboring country, and that its management of the safety of imported farm and fisheries products is well underway. It fact, the government has allowed the import of marine products from 18 regions in Japan if the certificates of origin are attached, banning the import from just eight other regions including the Fukushima Prefecture. Moreover, the maximum allowable content of radioactive materials such as cesium is much higher here in Korea than in other countries.
The Korean government held a ministerial meeting last weekend to cope with the spread of the rumors more effectively than by punishing those circulating them. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced that it would step up its radioactivity checks to twice a week on major imported marine products and make the test results public. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission is planning to measure the degree of radioactive contamination of coastal seawater, rainwater, and the atmosphere, and announce the results every other week as well.