Radioactive contamination found in Japanese rice

Japanese inspectors have found the first case of radioactive contamination in rice in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The radioactive cesium was found in a sample of rice from the city of Hokota, 90 miles south of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the New York Times reports.

However, officials say it is well within safe levels and two other samples taken in the same location showed no contamination.

Ibaraki prefecture said the radiation measured 52 becquerels per kilogram, about one-tenth of the government-set limit for grains, NYT reports.

New York Times reports:

The Agriculture Ministry said this was the first time that more than trace levels of cesium had been found in rice, though it said there was no health risk. Still, the discovery won wide attention here. Rice is the staple in most Japanese dishes, and holds a place in the collective national heart that exceeds that of apple pie for Americans, or baguettes for the French.

Fears of atomic contamination of the rice crop had been building ahead of this year’s autumn harvest, the first since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March. Adding to the anxiety is the fact that Japan’s mountainous northeast, which bore the brunt of the triple disaster, is one of the nation’s most productive rice-growing regions.

The discovery Friday was also likely to fan growing fears here about the safety of Japan’s food supply. Radiation exceeding safe levels has already been found in products from beef to spinach and green tea.

Meanwhile, a tsunami advisory issued after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit off Japan's northeast coast this afternoon has been lifted, less than an hour after it was put out. (Read more at

The tremor struck at a depth of 20km off the Fukushima coast at 3.36pm (AEST), the Japanese Meteorological Agency said.

According to AFP, the quake swayed buildings in Tokyo and caused waves of up to 50cm to lash areas along the coast, including where the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is situated.

Authorities confirmed the waves were likely to be limited to 50cm, compared with the more than 30m tsunami that struck some areas after an earthquake struck the region on March 11, Dow Jones Newswires said.