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Safe and Trustworthy? Food Safety after Fukushima

Nicolas Sternsdorff Cisterna
Harvard University

In this paper I explore the mistrust of the government and experts in guiding the public through the Fukushima disaster as it relates to food. Radiation exposure can be external (ambient radiation), or internal (ingested). There is little that can be done to protect against external radiation other than relocation or avoiding the outdoors. Internal radiation, on the other hand, is a place where concerned people in Japan could exercise some degree of agency in limiting their exposure. Japan is a capitalist society with a well-developed food distribution system, so it is possible for consumers to choose foods in ways that limit their risk. The public has an option between trusting government assurances of safety and testing procedures, and purchase any food available without worrying about where it was grown. Or they can be suspicious of government standards and purchase food only from retailers that screen it to stricter radiation standards than the government (there are many such businesses currently operating in Japan). Or they can refuse to eat products grown in Northern Japan, and have their food sourced from areas unaffected by radiation or favor imported products[1]. In what follows I offer an ethnographic vignette to look at the mistrust of experts, explain the setting of government food safety standards, and how some groups have challenged that interpretation. In the conclusion I return to the question of what it means for food to be safe when there is little trust in the system. The research is based on 18 months of fieldwork in the Tokyo area and numerous trips to Tohoku starting in September 2011.

The villain

In October of 2011 I attended a food safety event organized by an anti-nuclear group in Tokyo, featuring a long-standing food activist and critic of industrial food practices. Since the earthquake, she had taken the cause of teaching people about the threat of radiation in the food supply, and had just published a book to teach people in simple terms how to choose and prepare food safely in light of the threat of radiation (Yasuda 2011).

When the lecture was finished, I assumed that the event was over, but one of the organizers told me to hold on because more was coming. I sat down, the lights dimmed, and the stage lit up as a man in his 40s dressed in a worn out ensemble of red track pants, a red sweatshirt and a comically small red cape came on stage. Behind him, approximately ten people came wearing white masks, drumming and doing cheerful dance steps that reminded me of folk dancing.

The red man identified himself as little red riding hood, and welcomed us to this popular theater performance (minshu-geki). He told us not to be shy, and to get involved in the play. The masked performers behind him sat down, and shouted comments in approval or disapproval with what he was saying.

Little Red Riding Hood started by narrating his experience the Great Tohoku Earthquake. His story resembled many similar accounts I heard from people in Tokyo. First, there was the shaking, and because he was on a tall building, it swayed from side to side and he was very scared. Then, the trains stopped running, and he had to walk home. At this point, members of the audience became involved in the spirit of popular theatre and would shout things like “me too!” or “I also had to walk home!”

Then a couple of days later radiation came, and here he paused to emphasize how scary it was. The problem, he said, is that you cannot see it coming. It does not have any visual cues, it has no smell, and it has no taste. It is all pervasive, but you do not know that it is there. The audience and the masked people behind him shouted in approval of his description of how frightening radiation was.

Towards the end of his monologue, Little Red Riding Hood told us that we needed to come together to fight against nuclear power. That we needed to raise our voices and tell the government that enough was enough. It was time to practice. He called “Hoi,” and as an audience we responded “hoi.” He repeated “hoi” again, and we replied in kind. “Say ‘hantai (to oppose)’,” he said, and as an audience we called “hantai,” to which he replied “genpatsu (nuclear power).” The fervor rose as he called over and over again “genpatsu” and in the audience we responded each time with “hantai.” When the intensity and the rhythm of the chants reached a peak, he exited the stage and a second character came in.

This second character had a crooked back, used a cane, and was wearing a red mask in the shape of a devil. He identified himself as a Tokyo University professor doing research on the effects of radiation[1]. The boos followed immediately. He waved our boos away, and told us that according to his research, everything was safe and there was nothing to worry about. The audience continued to boo him as he tried to defend the use of nuclear power and the safety of the current situation. His arguments got stranger as things moved along, and he suggested that kids would study more, since they would only be allowed to play outside for five minutes because of the high radiation. Eventually the boos mounted, and the masked people who kept asking him hard questions chased him off stage, to which the audience erupted in cheerful clapping.

As I walked back from the event, I wondered about the choice of villain for this popular theater play. There was no shortage of possible villains — the president of the Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO), a government bureaucrat, even the prime minister could have played the role, but instead they chose a distinguished university professor who supports nuclear power. I later wrote in my notes that trust in government and experts to guide the public through the crisis was indeed running low if they bypassed the most obvious villains for one who was supposed to be an independent expert, but had fallen into the sphere of the nuclear industry. This brought to mind the skepticism I heard about Dr. Yamashita, one of the leading government experts on radiation and a professor at Nagasaki Medical University. At the beginning of the crisis he said that people could be exposed up to 100mSv/year without considerable health effects, and that people should smile to protect themselves from radiation. For people concerned about radiation, Dr. Yamashita’s remarks downplayed and trivialized the risks they were being exposed to, and contributed to their suspicion of government assurances of safety. I later attended an event with Sachiko Sato, one of the leading activists from the network of Fukushima women against radiation, and her opinion was that radiation would hit her body regardless of whether she was smiling or frowning. Much better it was to have real policies in place to protect children.

On trust

If there was one constant to virtually every interview I did in Japan about food safety, it was how few people trusted the government. Even before I asked the question, I had several people tell me they believed nothing the government said, and others told me that they used to trust the government, but after seeing their response to 3/11, they no longer did. In a quantitative study of trust after 3/11, Hommerich (2012) found low levels of trust in government, and furthermore, respondents often did not differentiate between the government and TEPCO. The public relations firm Edelman also found a drop in trust for the government in Japan after the earthquake. This was notable because trust in government had remained constant for several years, and had now dropped only slightly above Russia (The Economist 2012). The general feeling was that the government was in cahoots with the nuclear industry (Kingston 2012), suppressed information about the scope of the nuclear meltdown, and failed to put the interests of the population first. Furthermore, in regards to food safety, during the initial months after the meltdown there were several contaminated products such as spinach or beef that were not detected in time and made it into the food commodity chain. This also contributed to the lack of trust in the ability of government to protect the food supply from nuclear contamination.

The official safety standards

On March 17, 2011, six days after the earthquake, the government issued emergency standards to monitor the food supply. These standards were derived from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) guidelines which state that the general population should not be exposed to more than 5 millisievert per year (mSv/year). The Ministry of Health translated this to food, and created standards for the various radioactive substances emitted from the nuclear meltdown. Of primary concern were radioactive Iodine 131, which has a short half-life of eight days but it can be quite damaging to human and animal health, and radioactive Cesium 134 and 137, which amounted to over 90[1]percent of the pollutants dispersed over Japan. The maximum allowable standard became 500 becquerels per kilogram (bq/kg) for Cesium, and 2000 bq/kg for Iodine (Nougyou to keizai 2012).

cisterna fig before 1
Figure 1: Explanation sheet for Japan’s emergency safety standards in comparison to other locations, given at a citizen testing center in Tokyo. The top is for drinking water, and shows Japan with 100 bq/kg for children and 200 for adults. The lower part is for food, and shows Japan with 200-500 bq/kg depending on the product
A year after the meltdown, the government went back to the drawing board and revised the maximum allowable radiation in food products down from 500 to 100 bq/kg. With this new standard that became law on April 2012, Japan lowered the exposure limit to 1mSv/year. This standard is in line, or stricter, than the recommendations of organizations like the World Health Organization or the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is also considerably lower than the safety limits in the United States where the maximum allowed is 1,000bq[1]/kg. On the other hand, critics of the government compared it to standards found in countries that suffered from the fallout of Chernobyl: The Ukraine and Belarus both allow a maximum of 20-40 bq/kg, depending on the food product, and Germany has strict standards of 8 bq/kg for adults and 4 bq/kg for children.
cisterna Fig 1

Figure 2: Comparison chart received in a handout at a food safety event. This chart compares Japan’s emergency standards with other countries, and puts Japan on the high end. It argues that Japan’s standards are weak, and that children must be protected.

Amongst those concerned about food safety, there was some ambivalence about what the changes in safety standards meant. After attending an information session by the government in Fukushima city about the upcoming changes to the safety standards, I brought back a set of handouts for food activists in the city I had met earlier that day. When I handed them over, they flipped through the printed powerpoint slides, and asked why they could not make it strict like this from the beginning? They were particularly pleased to see that the maximum allowable limit for drinking water had gone down from 200 to 10 bq/kg. The new law also made separate standards for small children. Still, they wondered what this meant for the past year. If the government had revised their safety standards, did this mean that the food they had been consuming was no longer considered safe? And, it was January and the new law would not come into effect until April. Did this mean that food polluted with say 300 bq/kg was fine for the next three months, but then deemed unsafe afterwards?The government position tried to walk a fine line on this issue, and argued that food was considered safe under the emergency levels, and that the new safety limits were designed to further food safety and boost consumer confidence. I spoke with Takamori-san, a radiation specialist for a food coop that was particularly careful about monitoring radiation in their product line up. He thought that the decision to lower the standards was purely political — there was little to be gained from a public health perspective, and that the government figured that it could live with stricter standards and raise the anshin (peace of mind) of the population with the new standards.Even though Takamori-san believed that the decision to lower the safety standard was primarily political, his understanding of the threat of radiation and how he framed it for coop members was different: in a study session about radiation and food that he conducted in front of approximately twenty members, he argued that even if the risk from ingesting radiation was low, there is no such thing as zero risk. Even small amounts of radiation carry with them a potential risk, so the policy of the coop was to limit that exposure as much as possible. In the absence of a clear rationale for radiation exposure (such as having an x-ray for medical purposes), what is the goal of ingesting slightly contaminated food products?


In the absence of trust in the role of experts to guide the public through the effects of the nuclear meltdown, what options did people have to cope in this new environment? To be sure, mistrust of the current state of affairs is not a universal position, and there are many people who are comfortable eating food grown in Northern Japan. Nonetheless, according to a recent survey (Hosono 2013), mistrust of Fukushima-grown food has increased compared to 2011, and a little over 20 percent of respondents in the survey would not buy Fukushima products if they tested below government standards even if they were free, and about 16 percent would not eat them even if they tested with undetectable levels of radiation.

The erosion of trust in the ability of experts and the government to guide those concerned about food safety through the crisis has resulted in people having to take this risk in their own hands. In order to make those decisions, people must decide whether the foods before them are safe, and if they are trustworthy. Ulrich Beck argues that one of the features of risk society is an individualization of risk, where the individual and consumer must make those choices (Beck 2006). In the current moment in Japan, people concerned about food safety must navigate a world where they are required to make decisions about the science of radiation, and whom to trust amongst competing voices in a sea of experts who range in opinion from those who think nothing will happen with current levels of radiation, to others who advise people to be as vigilant as possible. Gregory Button (2010) argued that science is often unable to resolutely resolve uncertainties in the wake of a disaster. The science of the effects of low-exposure to radiation is indeed inconclusive (Normile 2011) and there are multiple interpretations of it. In the wake of the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, I have seen a deep mistrust of the role of experts, government or otherwise (especially those who argue that the situation is not as bad), to give people those reassurances.

In Japanese, safe food is often described as having both anzen (安全) and anshin (安心). Anzen refers to the world of science and precision; it is a measurable and quantifiable form of safety that has thresholds and can be measured in units like “below 100 bq/kg.” Anshin, on the other hand, speaks to questions of the heart, as many informants have pointed out to me. It is a subjective and emotional relationship to food. It is personal, and describes the degree of confidence one feels about the safety of food supplies. Both terms are often used in conjunction to describe foods as anzen anshin na shokuhin (safe and trustworthy food).

For the anzen/anshin relationship to exist, there must be trust in the procedures and science that determines something is safe. Given the widespread mistrust in the government, many of the people I worked with in Japan were not ready to take a leap of trust and consume foods without scrutinizing them further as to their origins. They consequently demanded much higher standards for foods to be trusted (such as undetectable levels of radiation, or grown in areas unaffected by radiation). Food safety is not a question of science alone, and for it to exist in a way that the public trusts it, there is an affective relationship of trust. The scientific and the subjective co-exist in the production of safe food. Anzen and anshin is a formulation that brings these two aspects together. In the wake of Fukushima, for the people I worked with concerned about food safety, there is little trust in the ability of the government and its cadre of experts to determine what safe is, which makes the relationship between safe and trustworthy much harder to exist.


[1] These are idealized options, and most people I met who were concerned about radiation and food shifted between these options depending on the context and cost involved.

[2] The choice of Tokyo University is not coincidental, as some of the engineering departments of this university were seen as part of the so-called “nuclear village” that formed the backbone of the Japanese nuclear industry. These departments trained many of the engineers running the plants, and their professors received grants from utility companies to conduct research on nuclear power (see Kingston 2012).



Beck, Ulrich. 2006. Living in the world risk society. Economy and Society 35 (3): 329-345.

Button, Gregory. 2010. Disaster Culture. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

The Economist. 2012. The Death of Trust: Japan After the 3/11 Disaster. March 10.

Hommerich, Carola. 2012. Trust and subjective well-being after the great east japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown: Preliminary results. International Journal of Japanese Sociology 21 (1): 46-64.

Hosono, Hiromi. 2013. Shohisha chousa no jouhou [Report on consumer research]. Presented at Houshaseibushitsu osen to shoku no anzen [Radioactive pollution and food safety]. Tokyo University, March 16.

Kingston, Jeff. 2012. Japan’s nuclear village. Japan Focus 10 (37).

Normile, Dennis. 2011. Fukushima Revives the Low-Dose Debate. Science, May.

Nougyou to keizai. 2012. Houshaseibushitsu to Shokuhin Kenkou Risuku [radioactive Materials and Food and Health Risks]. Showado.

Yasuda, Setsuko. 2011. Tabemono to houshanou no hanashi. [Stories about radiation and food]. Tokyo: Crayon House.

Nicolas Sternsdorff Cisterna is a Ph.D. candidate in social anthropology at Harvard University. His research looks at the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and food safety. He has also worked on place branding and food commodity chains, and his latest publication is “Space and terroir in the Chilean wine industry (Wine and Culture, Bloomsbury 2013).”
  1. Kath Weston permalink

    I loved the way you used the minshugeki performance to set the scene and set up your argument. Your question about the casting of a Todai professor as the villain is revealing and helps make the point that the distrust extends to experts more broadly, not just those associated with government. To the list of actions that people can take with regard to food safety, you might add taking steps to screen their own food (surface scans), for the minority of households that have invested in Geiger counters. The intricate relationship between anzen and anshin is nicely developed, which raises the question: For those whose mistrust in government leads them to buy from retailers who say they scan their food products for radiation, why do those consumers trust the retailers? After all, governments originally set up departments of weights and measures, etc., to address fraudulent claims and unscrupulous practices perpetrated by retailers, whose bottom-line interest is in selling, not scanning. (Nicholas, do you know what group produced the handout in Figure 2? I’ve also been working with this image and trying to track them down to get permission to reproduce.)

  2. Daniel Aldrich permalink

    I really enjoyed this paper. I wonder if you could talk about the efforts by Minami-soma doctors like Dr. Tsubokura who have been scanning more than 15,000 local residents for internal exposure levels. These doctors have sought to transmit their results to the local population with a special focus on avoiding highly contaminated foods such as wild mushrooms…

  3. Monamie Bhadra permalink

    I also really loved your ethnographic vignette! I find it fascinating that a Japanese scientist would say you can protect yourself from radiation if you smile more. I expect statements like that from the Indian nuclear establishment but not in Japan. How does this sit with the technical language of regulation? Did any boundary work happen with nuclear experts to discredit him?

    Also, trust is a very active word, but I wonder if the opposite of mistrust is not necessarily trust, but a passivity–an assumption that food is safe. What was the nature and reasons for trusting the government before Fukushima? Maybe knowing this could help explain why trust has shifted to retailers who scan their food?

  4. Laura Beltz Imaoka permalink

    I really thought your anzen/anshin relationship made a strong cultural connection to how the Japanese responded to unsafe food following the disaster. One thing I noticed while living in Japan with food safety was also an importance of where food geographically hailed from, as a component of its trustworthiness. For example, the lack of trust placed in food products from China. In terms of non-Japanese food products, cultural interpretations along with mediated information of the food product contributed to this anzen/anshin relationship (with food from China constantly in the news as being contaminated, etc.) It would be interesting to place this scrutiny of local food within a longer era of mistrust of food origins in Japan, as well as the influence of the media which helps disseminate risk.

  5. Scott Knowles permalink

    This is an exciting paper–and the almost literary details are so inviting–it’s very well told Nicolas.

    Food safety is another important way to understand the upheaval caused by the failure of experts. In this case it strikes me that it’s hard to tell which damages public trust more: the unwillingness of experts to take public concern seriously (smile harder), or the willingness of experts to change standards in the immediacy of public outcry.

    There are striking “production of ignorance” issues at work here that Scott F. can weigh in on as well.

    I’m curious about the status of the consumer as an indicator of their political activity. Who is most likely to raise the issue–are there class dynamics at play? Is the concern being raised mostly on behalf of others (a successful way to frame the case, politically, right?)–children, the elderly? Also, the experts have to eat too right? This is seemingly another place (again why food is a great topic) where the expert/non-expert division dissolves.

  6. Ryuma Shineha permalink

    In enjoyed your paper. I agree that trust, “Anzen”, and “Anshin” are keywords for considering the 3.11, particularly on food risk/safety issues. And currently, the local activities for “Anzen” and “Anshin” of food has attracted eyes.

    And as another information, I would like to introduce a material. Although it focused on little bit different aspect of food safety in the 3.11 context, it treats related matters.

    The article 「食品における放射能のリスク」, written by Tatsuhiro Kamisato, discuss the structural issues of Japanese food safety/risk governance and management, comparing the food safety criteria of radiation and chemicals. The structural issue of food safety have existed before the 3.11.
    (This article are published as book chapter of “Science and Politics after the Disaster of March 11 in Japan (ポスト3.11の科学と政治)” (Nakanishiya Press) edited by Masaki Nakamura.)

    These material are written in Japanese, but I think they will be help for your discussion.

  7. Hi Nico,

    Could you, in your presentation, discuss your informant base a bit and how you established it? This is one of those sensitive cases where snowballing needs to be used carefully, I think. The potential to collect just one perspective strikes me as high unless countermeasures are employed or the scope of conclusions is circumscribed.

  8. In addition to the opening vignette, this line caught my eye, “They were particularly pleased to see that the maximum allowable limit for drinking water had gone down from 200 to 10 bq/kg. The new law also made separate standards for small children. Still, they wondered what this meant for the past year.” I wonder if your larger study looks at water as an explicit food category? I wrote a paper a long time ago (unpublished) on water purification machines, which are formally classified as a medical device in Japan. As I read your paper, I kept thinking about this rather mundane technology in many Japanese people’s homes that already reflect/represent a heightened distrust in the government’s ability to provide for safety and how that has changed (I know of someone in Japan now who imports her water for her child from Hawai’i). Perhaps, to address Phil’s point, a brief genealogy of trust in drinking water could additionally help provide a compelling bearing point.

  9. Your observation on anzen/anshin is very stimulating! And you are right to bring our attention on trust and mistrust as key concepts for looking at post 3.11 Japan. The mistrust of experts has however become something of a sort of leitmotiv, so I think it would be worth further analysis.

    In the STS field, Latour has been pushing us to look beyond the Moderns’ reluctance of religious trust-faith-belief (the rationale choice of Science pretending to get rid of religious superstition or the collective hallucination of “In God we trust”). For example, the “confidence interval”, cherished by statisticians and epidemiologists etc, is a tentative to measure trust, which suggests how much scientists need also to “believe”.

    But the question of trust/mistrust holds more than that. The Fukushima crisis has not only destroyed the trust of Japanese citizens into their experts, into their State administration, and in their big companies.

    As you know, from the classical works of Tonnies and Durkheim to contemporary authors like Luhmann and Seligman, trust has been a major concern for Western sociology. In Japan, I guess there must be pretty lot of works in social sciences about “shinrai kankei” etc. So if you could try to include these works in your analytical framework, it could enrich considerably the question of trust and mistrust in expertise and beyond.

  10. Nicolas Sternsdorff permalink

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments. I look forward to continuing the discussion in Berkeley!

  11. Karena Kalmbach permalink

    Nicolas, thank you for this paper! Just a little add-on to the comments already posted above regarding the ‘long durée’ of mistrust in food/water quality: Could you find a continuity in people’s worries on an individual level, for example that people today concerned about food safety tended to be conscious about this aspect already before 3.11 (such as buying organic produce) or could you, for instance, identify a majority of people with a critical stance towards nuclear plants in the group of people who are today worried about food safety?

  12. Kyle Cleveland permalink

    The lack of faith among anti-nuclear activists in government safety standards is to be expected, but it is in even more interesting to see how these sentiments have been adopted by consumers who previously likely had no activist inclinations. As your research develops, it would be intriguing to chart if and how the views of these cohorts might diverge, as the crisis moves into a long term chronic condition. Although you do not address this in much detail in this briefer paper, the interviews you have conducted in Fukushima with people who have a longer term attachment to issues related to food safety (farmers and business owners whose primary market is food based) would be an interesting comparative sample, to see how pragmatic interests influence these views. The relation between affect and rationality – your distinction between anshin and anzen – is culturally grounded and a genuine insight that warrants further exploration.

  13. Nicolas, wonderful work as always. Others have posted perceptive and insightful comments, and I’m looking forward to your responses. I certainly agree with Laura that Japanese consumers, to a striking degree, seem concerned with the site (country or domestic prefecture) and method of the production of their food — at least since I first came here in 2002. Some foods, of course, provoke more concern than others.

    And connecting also with Lisa and Karena’s questions, in a similar vein of considering broader cultural and historical context, I am also curious how the post-Fukushima controversies fit into a more diachronic narrative that includes previous crises of trust in government and academic experts, such as Minamata. (Quick aside: my voice recognition software thought I just said “Sanchez Minamoto.” What a fantastic name!) In that case as well, high-profile Todai academics visibly took the side of politicians and MITI bureaucrats, against their colleagues at the less prestigious Kumamoto University. (Although if I recall correctly, the point in contention was not the safety of the food — everyone knew the fish was laden with mercury — but rather the source of the contamination, and thus the blame.) In short, I think the reasons for mistrust are rooted in decades (at least) of history. Have any of the actors you studied cited or otherwise expressed awareness of such historical cases?

    Also, in addition to the consumer side, have you spoken with any food producers in Fukushima or elsewhere? Would be curious to hear their perspective.

    Finally, I just want to call attention to the outsized role played by arbitrary geopolitical boundaries, such as the line between Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. The areas of Miyagi that border Fukushima are closer to the reactors, and have tested higher levels of radiation, then many parts of Fukushima Prefecture — which, as you know, is one of Japan’s largest prefectures in land area. And yet, for the most part, people do not seem so concerned about food from Miyagi Prefecture.

  14. Ryuma Shineha permalink

    I think there are several keypoints taken up in this paper. One is safety and trust in food treatment of government and expert after Fukushima. And “Anzen” and “Anshin” is one of the keywords for discussion. And concerning discussion and trials on “Anzen” and “Anshin” in the 3.11 context, currently, interesting trial for keep and grantee of food safety in Kashiwa-city, and that is reported by sociologist Yasumasa Igarashi, Tsukuba University. Kashiwa-city became a hot-spot for the Fukushima accident, and the sales of vegetables became rapidly decrease. For this situation, farmers, NPOs, companies, and researchers tried to set up measurement rule and system to recover the trust of consumers. At least, the trial is interesting and important case for thinking about food safety in the 3.11.
    And I would like to comment and introduce some information related to trust and regulation system on food safety in Japan. Firstly, the trust problem in food safety is not a unique problem for the Fukushima issue. Also “Anzen” and “Anshin” was keywords for food safety governance mentioned so often, particularly in the time of Japanese BSE affair around 2000. BSE affairs impacted to Japanese food regulatory system, and for that, new regulatory agency, Food Safety commission was established, and Food safety basic law was enacted. Food safety commission was also the main arena for revision of food safety criteria for radio exposure from food. And, discussions of food safety and trust in food safety in government and expert in the 3.11 can be connected to those previous contexts on food safety/regulatory system. Similar and same problems have existed before the 3.11. In my opinion, we have to think this problem, considering the discussion context of food risk regulatory system since BSE issue totally. Food safety commission disclosure their expert committee’s discussion as conference minute and records. So, it may be interesting to analyze their discussion and discourses about trust and system after the 3.11.

    (What is different and common points between discussion around BSE and the 3.11? How they think about trust, current situation, and uncertainty of regulation on food safety concerning radioactive exposure?)

    And concerning perspective of regulatory system of food safety/risk, food safety governance and management have some structural problems in their criteria. In this points, Dr. Tatsuhiro Kamisato, Osaka university, show the provocative discussion in “Science and Politics after the Disaster of March 11 in Japan (ポスト3.11の科学と政治). In the article 「食品における放射能のリスク」, he discussed the structural issues and inconsistency of Japanese food safety/risk governance and management, comparing the food safety criteria of radiation and chemicals. And he pointed out there are large difference of criteria for adverse effect on human health between radioactive and chemicals, focusing an example of benzene.

  15. Kyoko Sato permalink

    Thanks for an informative and insightful paper. I’m sorry I’m commenting on this only now, but I have also addressed the issues of anzen and anshin in my work on 遺伝子組み換え食品 (GM food), and based on elaborations of my informants I have translated them to safety on “scientific basis” vs. peace of mind. It would be great to see how our findings around these concepts compare.

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