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2008年9月18日 (木)

汚染米拡大

(Sep. 18, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun
Blame for rice scandal also lies with ministry
汚染米拡大 農水省は責任を痛感せよ(9月18日付・読売社説)

Rice meant for industrial use because it was unfit for human consumption has been illicitly distributed and ended up in consumers' mouths. Serious ramifications from this scandal, which has jeopardized food safety, are spreading nationwide.
工業用のコメが横流しされて消費者の口に入ってしまった。食の安全を揺るがす深刻な事態が全国に広がっている。

It was revealed Tuesday that a large portion of the about 1,400 tons of rice contaminated with pesticide residue or mold that the government sold to Osaka-based Mikasa Foods was resold to about 380 companies in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and 21 other prefectures. More than 600 tons of the rice was distributed as food.
国が大阪市の「三笠フーズ」に売った、農薬などによる汚染米約1400トンの一部が24都府県の約380社に転売され、600トン以上が食用になっていたことが明らかになった。

The book must be thrown at the people involved in this act that betrayed public trust in food. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry also must bear heavy responsibility for failing to detect the illicit act and allowing damage from the tainted rice to spread.
食への信頼を裏切った行為は厳しく糾弾されなければならない。不正を見抜けず、汚染米による被害を拡大させた農林水産省の責任も重大だ。

The government should be united in urgently unraveling the truth about this scandal and mapping out measures to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.
政府は一丸となって、全容解明と再発防止策づくりを急ぐべきだ。

Tainted rice distributed by Mikasa Foods was served in meals at day care centers and other locations. Concentrations of the pesticide methamidophos detected in the rice exceeded safe levels.
三笠フーズが転売した汚染米は保育園などの給食に使われ、安全基準を超すメタミドホスが検出された。

The rice has been processed to make shochu liquor and sweets, and only a fraction of the tainted rice Mikasa bought from the government was used for industrial purposes. It is believed that Mikasa intended to sell the rice for food from the beginning.
焼酎や菓子にも加工され、工業用に使用されたのはごく一部だった。最初から食用として転売する狙いだったとみられる。

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Slack government checks

The ministry inspected Mikasa facilities almost 100 times, but only after notifying the company in advance. This allegedly gave Mikasa time to produce bogus sales slips and temporarily change the processing procedure for inspections to mask its wrongdoing.
農水省は100回近く三笠フーズを検査したが、検査日時を事前に通告していたため、伝票を偽造したり、検査時だけ工程を変えたりしてごまかされていた。

Aside from Mikasa, three companies resold tainted rice meant for industrial use they bought from the government. In all these cases, the ministry blindly believed explanations offered by the companies and did not bother to confirm who bought the rice from these companies.
三笠フーズ以外にも3社が工業用として仕入れた汚染米を不正に転売していたが、農水省はいずれも業者側の説明を鵜呑(うの)みにし、転売先の確認もしなかった。

The government imported the tainted rice in keeping with an accord under the World Trade Organization. If the unsold rice is returned to the exporting nations, Japan will not able to fulfill its import obligations. Companies willing to buy such tainted rice were therefore welcome clients for the ministry.
汚染米は世界貿易機関(WTO)の合意に基づいて国が輸入したものだ。輸出国に返品すれば、輸入枠を消化したことにならない。汚染米を買ってくれる業者は、農水省にはありがたい存在だった。

We wonder if the ministry and these companies developed collusive ties, which resulted in lackadaisical inspection practices. If such ties indeed resulted in such a blatant disrespect for food safety, the blame for this scandal should fall squarely on the ministry as well as the companies that distributed the tainted rice.
甘い検査の背景に、農水省と業者とのなれ合いがあったのではないか。その結果、食の安全がないがしろにされたとしたら、農水省も業者と同罪だ。

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Consumers disrespected

Since the scandal surfaced earlier this month, the ministry's behavior has been nothing short of disrespectful to consumers. For example, it initially refused to disclose the list of companies that bought the tainted rice.
問題発覚後も、農水省は流通先リストの公表を拒むなど、消費者の目線を忘れた対応が目立った。

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota made matters worse last week when he said he was not overly fazed by the scandal, a remark that raised doubt about whether he knows what it takes to ensure the food on Japan's tables is safe.
太田誠一農相が「じたばた騒いでいない」と述べるなど、食の安全への自覚を疑う発言もあった。

At the urging of the Prime Minister's Office, the ministry eventually produced the list of companies that purchased tainted rice and decided to return the remaining spoiled rice to the exporting countries, or to incinerate it.
農水省は首相官邸から促されてようやくリストを公表し、今後は汚染米を返品または焼却することを決めた。

These moves came rather belatedly. The ministry should make the distribution channels of rice more transparent and beef up its supervision of imported rice.
遅すぎたくらいだ。コメ流通の透明化や輸入米の管理強化をさらに進めるべきである。

The Osaka, Fukuoka and Kumamoto prefectural police plan to start full-fledged investigations into Mikasa Foods to establish a criminal case. We hope the police will trace the entire distribution network of the tainted rice and uncover the underhand tricks Mikasa employed. Doing so will help find ways to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.
大阪、福岡、熊本の3府県警は、近く三笠フーズの強制捜査に乗り出す方針だ。再発を防ぐためにも流通経路の全容とともに、悪質な手口の解明を期待したい。

The rice in question reportedly is unlikely to pose health risks. Although this scandal constitutes a grave betrayal of public trust in food, it should not trigger disproportionate reactions. We hope consumers will respond to this scandal calmly.
問題の汚染米が、健康に影響する可能性は極めて低いとされる。食への信頼が裏切られた事実は重いが、過剰反応は禁物だ。消費者は冷静に対応してほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2008)
(2008年9月18日01時55分  読売新聞)

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