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Date goes whole hog into boar leather business in Fukushima

16 June 2018

[Translated by the Japan Times]Wild boar leather is said to breathe well and resist chafing. It is used in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, to make products like babies’ first walking shoes because it is soft and fits well.

In the leather workshop at Dateshi Noringyo Shinko Kosha (Date Agriculture and Forestry Promotion Public Corp.) in the city’s Ryozen district, one can hear the comforting sound of rubbing leather parts. Workers are carefully stitching the parts together and nailing on the metal parts using presses.

Its business of selling wild boar leather products under the brand name Ino Date is gradually catching on, with the main products, including key fobs and babies’ walking shoes, proving so popular that production can’t keep up with demand. The products are sold at the local inn Ryozen Kosaikan, Hobara Station on the Abukuma Express Line, and Ubuka no Sato - a public bath in the town of Kori in the prefecture.

The wild boar are captured by local hunters, and their skin goes through radiation testing before and after tanning to confirm safety.

The corporation initially wanted to sell the meat, but they had to give up on the idea because eating wild boar caught in the area was banned after the 2011 core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

They came up with the idea of developing leather products after learning about a company in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward that tans wild animal hides. After repeated talks with representatives from the local tourism industry, the corporation began selling leather products in April 2015. It currently employs seven staffers and 16 artisans for the project.

As the government continues to ban shipments of wild animal meat from the region due to radiation concerns, the boar population is growing and causing serious crop damage. Over 1,800 of them have been captured in the city in the six years since the meltdowns.

The corporation posted \3.54 million in leather sales last year but is having trouble cutting costs, including payments for hunters and tanners.

“Recognition of wild boar leather products is still low,” said the corporation’s secretary-general, Katsunori Sagawa, 53. “We are determined to go headlong, like a boar, into strengthening our brand and expanding our sales channels.”

13 June 2018

"Fukushima tree-planting festival" set for November

Building on the successful 69th national tree-planting festival hosted earlier this month, the Fukushima prefectural government is set to launch a similar follow-up event during the current 2018 fiscal year ending next March in cooperation with organizations concerned.
The first "Fukushima tree-planting festival" will be conducted on Nov. 4 in a coastal disaster prevention forest being developed in the Kitaebi area of the Kashima district in Minamisoma city. A major tree-planting ceremony is to be held there with about 3,000 participants from within and outside the prefecture. Hosts of the event will be rotated in various parts of Fukushima in and after next year.
The local government expects to fuel the rebirth of prefectural forests, devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant, with the aim of inheriting the spirit of the national tree-planting festival held on June 10 in Minamisoma in the presence of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
The follow-up event was announced by Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori at a press conference on June 12. It will be organized by an executive committee comprising the local government, municipalities concerned, forest-related organizations, tourism bodies and other parties.
The forthcoming event will be themed on the restoration of tsunami-damaged disaster prevention forests in coastal areas, as was the case with the national tree-planting festival.
Some 16,000 saplings of Japanese black pine trees, "enoki" nettle trees, "yamazakura" cherry trees and other species are to be planted in a seashore area about 3 hectares wide.
The event is also intended to allay concerns about prefectural goods in the wake of the nuclear disaster by publicizing the output of local agricultural, forestry and fisheries, as well as wooden products of good quality.
The prefectural government is hoping to enlist support from kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo, who is engaged in a reforestation project in Nagano Prefecture, in drawing participants on the back of his standing offer to assist local post-disaster reconstruction.
The prefectural government is poised to consider role-sharing arrangements with a related local event known as an "Utsukushima tree-fostering festival," held since 2003 (Utsukushima is a word coined from "utsukushii" or beautiful and Fukushima). "We would like to push further ahead with tree planting and other green forestation projects throughout the whole of Fukushima," Uchibori said.
(Translated by Kyodo News)

5 June 2018

No. of Fukushima child evacuees down 567 to 17,487 as of April 1

The number of people younger than 18 evacuated after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant stood at 17,487 as of April 1, down 567 from the previous surveyed total as of Oct. 1, 2017, the Fukushima prefectural government said in a report on June 4. Among them, children living inside the prefecture away from home numbered less than 10,000 for the first time since the local government began surveying evacuees on April 1, 2012.

According to the latest survey results, child evacuees who remain inside Fukushima totaled 9,912, down 168 from the previous survey. Children still evacuated outside the prefecture numbered 7,575, down 399.

Minamisoma city topped the municipal list of child evacuees with 3,654, followed by Namie town with 2,725 and Okuma town with 1,927.

The latest tally of evacuated children represented a decline of 12,622 from 30,109 as of April 1, 2012.

Officials of the prefectural government's child/youth policy section attributed the downtrend to the lifting of evacuation orders in most municipalities and completion of public housing for disaster victims, among other factors. "We would like to partner with municipal governments in allowing children to return to their hometowns in the prefecture and to push ahead with measures to ensure an environment where parents can raise children with peace of mind," one official said.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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