Japanese turn away from domestic rice for reasons sparked by Fukushima and international competition.

Hiroko Tabuchi has the New York Times story.

This is the kind of thing I could see happening. The rice in Japan is safe. They aren’t selling cesium-laced rice. But people’s feelings about Japanese rice have changed. If consumers can buy imported rice—even with a 700% tariff on it—why not? It’s “better for you” for the simple fact that you feel like you are not eating radiation rice. Or, you are worried about the radiation in your other food, and so the foreign rice lowers the average dose you are getting in your meal. Especially, for the children.

If the runners of Japan had been a lot more transparent over the years, this would not be happening this way. In Pennsylvania, after Three Mile Island, there was only a brief period of time when people were avoiding the milk, or checking whether the dairy product was coming out of this region of Pennsylvania. A few months out, it was a non-issue.

Who becomes the victim in all of this? The farmer who is making a marginal living at farming. For conglomerates, it’s just a column in the spreadsheet. But people who rely on the demand for their product are getting hit hard, for no good reason.

This, in turn, makes it even less likely that the everyday people will support nuclear energy in the near future. If you read the news reports, there’s a lot of protests against it now as it is.

When the Japanese were more aggressive about keeping imported rice out, there was nothing wrong with imported rice. Now, there is nothing wrong with domestic rice.