Stockbreeding resumed in Katsurao village 6 years after nuclear disaster

23 March 2017

Beef cattle breeding resumed in Katsurao village, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 22, six years after all village residents were evacuated following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. In June last year, an evacuation order was lifted in parts of the village except in a “difficult-to-return” zone, opening the way for the restart of stockbreeding.

In the Natsuyu district of the village, Hatsue Shimoeda , 50, moved a dozen head of “wagyu” Japanese beef breeding cattle to a cowshed adjacent to her house from the Ashizawa area of Tamura city’s Funehiki district where they had been sheltered since the nuclear disaster. She made two round trips -- one in the morning and the other in the afternoon -- over a distance of some 30 kilometers with a vehicle carrying cows and calves. One way took about an hour.

Before the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident, agriculture was the village’s main industry, with many farming families engaging in both rice cultivation and stockbreeding. At the time of the disaster, there were 96 such households, which had a total of 392 head of breeding beef cattle, 140 milk cows and 3,610 head of fattening cattle. Following the nuclear accident, both milk cows and fattening cattle were sold while some 160 head of breeding beef cattle, which were kept outside a no-go zone set up after the mishap, were evacuated to cowsheds in Tamura’s Ashizawa and Tokiwa areas at the request of farmers.

At present, about 120 head of breeding beef cattle owned by 24 farmers are bred in the city’s two cowsheds. About 50 of them kept by seven farmers, including the cattle raised by Shimoeda , are scheduled to return to the village within March. Village authorities intend to have all other evacuated cattle return by the end of March 2018.

[Photo] Hatsue Shimoeda (right) moves a wagyu calf from a vehicle to a cowshed at her home in Katsurao village on March 22.

(Translated by Kyodo News)