FUKUSHIMA -- Eleven Japanese restaurants in the Thai capital of Bangkok have stopped serving imported fish caught off the coast of the Fukushima prefectural city of Soma, the prefectural government here said on March 12.
The decision of each restaurant came following fears that they might experience a backlash and a reduction in customer numbers -- fueled by citizen group protests that have spread online -- even though Thailand does not restrict the import of goods from Fukushima Prefecture.
Consignments of fresh seafood including flounder, fluke and octopus have been exported from Fukushima Prefecture to Thailand since late February -- the first export of seafood from the prefecture since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. It is not sure when the restaurants will start offering the fish again.
According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, 143 kilograms of fish have been exported to Thailand since Feb. 28, with about 50 kilograms being consumed at an event starting on March 2 that was jointly hosted by the 11 restaurants.
However, consumer groups in Thailand have been directing protests toward the country's Ministry of Public Health, saying, "Don't make citizens here eat dangerous fish." Meanwhile, the ministry has stated that a thorough inspection has been conducted and the fish is safe.