Is it safe to visit Japan?
Many travelers are wary of visiting the country after March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami raised concerns about a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
“The water and food in this area are safe. However, the city has suffered great damage from harmful rumors,” noted Ichiro Kanke, major of Wakamatsu City, in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday.
Mayor Kanke turned to YouTube to spread the message that his city is safe and poses no radiation threat.
In halting English, Mayor Kanke urges YouTube viewers to visit Wakamatsu City, which he calls a “safe area.” As of Monday evening, the video had 211 views.
Also known as Aizuwakamatsu, Wakamatsu City is located in the same prefecture as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. However, as Mayor Kanke notes in the video, Wakamatsu City sits 100 km (62 miles) from the plant.
The mayor faces an uphill battle in reviving tourism to the region, since the name Fukushima has become synonymous with nuclear power.
Tourist visits to Fukushima prefecture have fallen in half compared to last year, officials told the Associated Press earlier this month.
In the YouTube clip, Mayor Kanke takes a live radiation reading at Mt. Iimori, a popular tourist attraction.
The camera zooms in on the device, which reads 0.08 microsieverts per hour. The mayor filmed a similar video at the historic Tsuruga-jo Castle and obtained a 0.18 reading.
(In April, the Japanese government set the radiation threshold for closing schools at 3.8 microsieverts per hour– 47.5 times higher than Mayor Kanke’s reading at Mt. Iimori).
“According to a radiation specialist, this measurement value has no effect on the human body,” Mayor Kanke says on the Mt. Iimori video. He ends the clip, which lasts 1 minute and 43 seconds, with an invitation to tourists.
“As you can see, Aizu-Wakamatsy City is a safe area. Please come here for sightseeing. We hope to see you then.”
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What do you think of Mayor Kanke’s video message? Would you visit Wakamatsu City right now? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.
Thanks to Downtown Traveler reader Mark for pointing us to this video, which has not appeared in English-language news reports.