by PAT CURRIE
As the scope of earthquake/tsunami damage to Japan becomes clearer and desperate efforts appear to be gaining control of overheating nuclear plants, it appears likely that Canadian pork exports to Japan will not be hurt in the short term and may actually increase before May.
Jacques Pomerleau, president of Canada Pork International, which promotes Canadian pork exports, said Monday that the hard-hit Sendai region 250 kilometres north of Tokyo normally produces about 10 per cent of Japan’s domestically raised pork. The farms are inland and so escaped unharmed but the tidal waves that smashed coastal areas "destroyed the pig feed mills and also the workers’ homes," Pomerleau said.
Many of the workers may also be part of a death toll now officially near 8,200 and likely to top 21,000 when victims listed as missing are accounted for.
Canadian pork shipments already in transit across the Pacific Ocean will be landed safely over the next six to eight weeks at Tokyo and other southern Japanese ports, which remain undamaged, "but what happens after it’s unloaded remains an issue" because a nation-wide fuel shortage has thrown Japan’s interior distribution system into chaos, he said.
As well as being the epicentre of the most heavily damaged area where entire towns and villages were swept away by the post-shock tsunami, Sendai is also the focus of a 50-mile-radius evacuation zone around a complex of six radiation-leaking nuclear reactors.
Some 1.4 million homeless people are also huddled there in temporary shelters, many fearing they will never be able to rebuild their damaged or destroyed homes because of the radiation peril.
Japan is Canada’s second-largest importer of Canadian pork. BF