The first rice crops cultivated on an experimental basis near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were used in dishes served at cafeterias of the Environment Ministry office complex on Nov. 19.
“It tastes very good,” Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said after eating an “onigiri” rice ball in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district. “I’m sure the cafeterias will thrive.”
The rice was planted earlier this year in decontaminated paddies in the town of Namie near the nuclear plant. The crops were the first in the area since the nuclear accident unfolded in 2011.
All of the town’s residents are still living in evacuation because of high radiation levels around their homes.
Two tons of rice, including the Koshikihari brand, were offered to the cafeterias.
Each bag of rice had radioactivity levels under the detectable limit of 25 becquerels per kilogram.
Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba and Kiyoto Matsumoto, a farmer in the town, joined Mochizuki in the onigiri meal.
“I’m glad my rice was not affected,” said Matsumoto, who had been worried that the crops would contain unacceptable radioactivity levels.
Baba said the rice harvest is good news for the reconstruction of the town.
“I am glad to see the first crops of rice in four years (from Namie),” the mayor said.