Safety worries have clouded Yoshinoya Holdings' plans to grow vegetables close to the the site of one of the world's worst nuclear disasters.
The Japanese fast-food chain, known for selling "gyudon" -- stewed beef and rice -- has formed a joint venture with farmers local to Shirakawa, to the south-west of the plant. Farmers will grow onions, cabbage and rice for use in the chain's outlets 60 miles from the power plant.
After an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered nuclear meltdowns. Roughly 160,000 people were evacuated and a compulsory safe-zone was established around the contaminated area, where air, ground and water all became poisoned.
Yoshinoya says the vegetables will be safe to consume, and the joint venture will "lead to support for reconstruction" of the area. However, contamination worries have resulted in low prices for Fukushima produce and substantial losses for local farmers.
In September, Japanese officials unveiled plans to control the spread of radioactive water coming from the plant. Two projects, one to contain the damaged reactors with a ring of subterranean ice and the other to construct a second processing plant to filter radioactive particles from contaminated water, are expected to cover a total of ¥47 billion.
On Thursday, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a speech in Nagoya that Japan should abandon nuclear power and opt for alternative, less dangerous and renewable means.
"I'm calling for zero nuclear power," Koizumi said. "The sooner, the better."
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