Japan has started releasing information on radiation levels around main international ports and airports in and near Tokyo in both Japanese and English in a bid to combat what it calls "harmful rumors."
Measurements of radiation doses around the Port of Tokyo and the Port of Yokohama, as well as Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport are now available on the Web site of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
These ports and airports have not been affected directly by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11. The Port of Tokyo and the Port of Yokohama are Japan's largest and second-largest container ports.
But "harmful rumors" about the level of danger posed by the heavily damaged Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture have already had some impacts on shipping and aviation involving the ports and airports, the ministry said.
Some foreign shipping firms have avoided making calls at ports in and near Tokyo, while some foreign airlines have diverted their flight services from Narita and Haneda airports to other airports, the ministry said.
"If nothing is done, the Japanese economy and people's lives will be affected considerably by harmful rumors that are not based on data," Akihiro Ohata said at a press conference Friday.
The Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, which is operated by Japan's biggest electric utility Tokyo Electric Power, is about 137 miles northeast of Tokyo.
The nuclear power plant has suffered fires and explosions, leaking radiation. People living within a 12.5-mile radius of the 40-year-old plant have been evacuated.
As of Monday morning Japan time, radiation doses stood at 0.51 mili-Sievert per year around the Port of Tokyo, 0.36 mSv/year around the Port of Yokohama, 3.75 mSv/year around Narita airport and 0.68 mSv/year around Haneda airport.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said that these figures are quite low and have no effect on human health. The ministry plans to update figures every day.
Adding to food safety concerns amid the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No.1 plant, some foods from near the plant were found to have elevated radiation levels.
Spinach and milk samples were found to have higher-than-normal radiation "but not at levels harmful to human health," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the top government spokesman, said at a press conference Saturday.
The London-based International Maritime Organization said in a news release on Monday, "International flight and maritime operations can continue normally into and out of Japan's major airports and sea ports, excluding those damaged by the tsunami."
This conclusion is based on the latest information available from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Meteorological Organization, the IMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the news release said.
"While there is currently no medical basis for imposing restrictions, the United Nations organizations are monitoring the situation closely and will advise of any changes," IMO said.
"Screening for radiation of international passengers from Japan is not considered necessary at this time. Currently available information indicates that increased levels have been detected at some airports, but these do not represent any health risk," IMO said.
The Montreal-based ICAO also released an identical news release Friday.
ICAO's news release came two days after China turned away a Japanese cargo plane operated by All Nippon Airways at Dalian airport because Chinese authorities said its loads had radiation levels that exceeded limits. The plane had departed from Narita airport.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RadNet system has not detected any radiation levels of concern.
-- Contact Hisane Masaki at firstname.lastname@example.org.