Alastair Wanklyn of the Telegraph claims that Japanese umbrella use is due to radiation fears

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    I have just read the most idiotic Japan-related article I have ever seen a major newspaper. It’s a piece in the Telegraph by Alastair Wanklyn claiming that Japanese people use umbrellas because they are afraid of “fall-out” from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident:

    Japan’s umbrella culture is reinforced these days by an ongoing fear of fall-out from Fukushima – in particular, radioactive rainwater. Locals tend to hedge and keep brollies both at home and at work.

    In my office, a large rack contains perhaps twice as many umbrellas as there are staff. Presumably I draw compassion as I walk in the drizzle protected only by a tweed coat.

    Those of us who have lived in Japan before and after 2011 know that Japanese umbrella use has changed little since Fukushima. Japanese have always used umbrellas on rainy days, to an extent that seems odd to people from other nations. It’s understandable that an ignorant or stupid outsider might incorrectly assume that radiation fears are the reason why most Japanese people use umbrellas during light rain, but that’s no excuse for a major newspaper to print such a claim.

    Tokyo’s water supply has been tested for radiation every day since the nuclear accident. Current rainfall contains no measurable levels of contamination. While there may have been some public fear about radioactive rain over Tokyo in the immediate days after the nuclear disaster, such fears are practically non-existent today.

    Alastair Wanklyn’s article is sensationalist piece of garbage, spreading unfounded fears about the water supply and food supply in Japan. Over the years, I have come to expect poor news reporting about Japan in Western newspapers, but this article sets a new low. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    [hat tip to Ken Y-N]

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