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Tokyo rice exchange starts amid radiation scare
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 9, 2011

A rice futures exchange in Japan's capital had its first full trading day Tuesday, after operations were halted the previous day on soaring demand amid fears radiation contamination will limit supply.

Japan on Monday started a two-year trial for rice futures trading at commodities exchanges in Tokyo and Osaka, for the first time since such trade was suspended over seven decades ago when Japan readied for World War II.

However, on Monday no deals were made in Tokyo as buy-orders vastly overwhelmed sell-orders, while the Osaka market saw the January 2012 contract trade shoot up to 19,210 yen ($246.28) per 60 kilogrammes.

In Tuesday's trade at the Tokyo Grain Exchange the most active January 2012 contract sold for 17,280 yen ($223) per 60 kilogrammes.

Traders assumed a tight rice supply this year due to radiation contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The nuclear plant, hit by the powerful March 11 quake and tsunami, has spewed radiation into the environment for nearly five months, tainting farm products including beef after cattle were fed radioactive rice straw.

Consumer fears have grown that rice, the country's food staple, will be contaminated too and many families have stocked up on rice grown last year, while the government has ordered testing across the fallout zone.

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