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Japan restricts green tea over radiation fears
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 2, 2011

Japan banned the shipment of green tea leaves grown in four prefectures around Tokyo on Thursday after radioactive caesium above legal levels was found in samples, a media report said.

It was the latest produce shipment ban since the massive March 11 seabed quake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant northeast of Tokyo, which has since leaked radiation into the ground, air and sea.

The ban covers tea leaves from parts of the Tochigi, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures and all of Ibaraki prefecture, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said, Kyodo News agency reported.

Kanagawa, southwest of Tokyo, said in early May it had detected radiation above the legal limit in tea grown there and blamed it on the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, which suffered partial meltdowns.

Kanagawa prefecture then started a recall of the tea after measuring about 570 becquerels of caesium per kilogramme in leaves grown in the city of Minamiashigara. The legal limit is 500 Bq/kg.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant is located some 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Tokyo and 280 kilometres from Minamiashigara.

The central government has previously imposed a ban on a range of vegetables and dairy produce from parts of Fukushima prefecture and several neighbouring regions, and banned fishing in the vicinity of the plant.

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