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American Citizen Services

Radiation, Health and Food Safety Information Post-Fukushima

Last updated March 28, 2014

After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, radiation was released into the environment near the plant. Japanese government officials have taken steps to protect public health, including evacuating the area around the plant and stopping production and distribution of food from affected areas to other parts of Japan and the world. Japan has also implemented a broad program of radiation monitoring, centering on Fukushima Prefecture. Regular monitoring of air, food, and water for radiation continues and additional information on these activities is provided below.

Summer 2014: Concern over Fukushima Daiichi Water Leaks Continues

More than three years after the accident, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is stable, but still severely damaged.  The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is working with Japanese government agencies to address leaks of contaminated water on the site.  TEPCO and Japanese government agencies routinely monitor levels of radiation in the seawater near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to identify contamination levels.  TEPCO provides regular technical updates in English of its efforts and radiation monitoring.

Japanese authorities have not identified any radiation levels, outside of restricted access areas, that increase radiation exposure risks for residents of Japan. Japanese authorities also conduct regular inspections of food and tap water and have not identified any increased radiation levels. For more information on these efforts and to view the latest results, please see the links below.

About radiation exposure or contamination

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide helpful information about radiation and its health effects.

Food and Water

As in the United States, the Japanese government has set standards for radioactive material in food and beverages to protect public health. Japan's Cabinet Office posted an English summary of Food Safety in Japan following the 2011 nuclear accident. (The pdf can also be found here.)

Radioactivity measurements in food, water, and the environment are collected and updated regularly by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority.  The Nuclear Regulation Authority divides responsibilities for radiation monitoring with several other agencies, in accordance with its Comprehensive Radiation Monitoring Plan.

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) is responsible for food safety in agricultural, forestry, livestock, and fishery products. MHLW regularly updates its English language website with information on the safety of water and specific foods in Japan.

MHLW has not restricted tap water intake since May 2011, but tap water is routinely surveyed.

Japan's Fisheries Agency—under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries—works with prefectural governments and local fishery groups to sample and inspect fishery products at major ports in Fukushima Prefecture and nearby prefectures for radioactive contamination on a weekly basis.

More resources

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates nuclear material in the United States.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides general radiation protection guidance to the U.S. federal government and states for use in developing radiation protection rules and regulations to protect the American public from the harmful effects of radiation. Further information about the radioactive isotopes commonly identified at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant can be found here:

World Health Organization

International Atomic Energy Agency

  • The March 2011 nuclear accident was given the most serious classification—a seven—on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).  Subsequent releases of radiation may also be designated on the INES scale. Learn more about the categories here.
  • The IAEA and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization provide general guidance on Nuclear Emergency Response for Food and Agriculture.