Masashi sent the following message today.
"Today (April 9) the Agricultural Minister, Mr. Kano, visited Iitate village and other rural areas affected by the earthquake and discussed the rehabilitation measures for the future. News media reported that Iitate mayor Kanno proposed to the Minister that biofuel crops, such as rapeseed or sunflowers would be one of the options in Iitate village, and the mayor hopes Iitate can develop an excellent rehabilitation model based on cooperation among industry/government/academics in order to survive the current nuclear crisis.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) announced on April 8 that rice planting should be suspended this year in paddy fields that show higher levels of radiation (over 5,000 Bq/kg of cesium in the soil). In addition, harvested rice in other areas which show lower levels should have their radiation levels tested before selling.
With respect to Peter’s questions regarding the rural market and Awano’s situation, I do not have enough information to answer them in a satisfactory fashion.
However, it seems to me that recovering the rural market would take time. It will be a long process and we do not see how long it takes at this point. It is no exaggeration to say that no one in Japan can escape from the huge impact of the earthquake. Huge damage has affected the fishing, farming, manufacturing, and tourist industries, and so on in Japan. The loss of foreign labourers would affect various sectors in Japan. It is difficult to say when they would decide to return to Japan under the current condition of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The government has proposed various types of transitional loans with lower interest rates, and compensation schemes to affected industries. A recently released plan for the first supplementary budget reached more than US$30 billion. In order to overcome this critical situation, the current ruling party (Democratic Party) is seeking an alliance with the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), the former ruling party. It is referred to as a grand alliance. The political game has now begun."