HomeOpinionMythbuster: Can cars imported from Japan be radioactive?

Mythbuster: Can cars imported from Japan be radioactive?


Zimbabwean government recently enacted a statutory instrument requiring all newly-imported vehicles from countries which have experienced nuclear radiation such as Japan to be inspected for radiation before they enter the country with immediate effect.

The regulations were published in Statutory Instrument 281 of 2020 by the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) chief executive Justice Chipuru.

It reads: “There is now a requirement in terms of SI 281of 2020 titled Radiation Protection (Safety and Security of Radiation Sources) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No 5), that all vehicles being imported into Zimbabwe from countries that experienced nuclear incidents (Japan) be inspected for radiation contamination with immediate effect.”

Japan automobile industry is one of the world’s top auto industries. Around millions of vehicles are produced and exported from Japan every year.

Public reputation of Japanese vehicles is so good that whenever Japanese automakers come out with a new vehicle, they instantly draw crowds. Japanese products are renowned across the world for their quality and reliability. And Japanese used vehicles are no such exceptions.

Most people across the world prefer to buy used vehicles from Japan. The strict roadworthiness regulations in Japan make Japanese to sell their vehicle even though they are still relatively new. Importing a used Japanese vehicle is also very easy due to many online used car portals.

While buying a used Japanese vehicle, one gets a quality vehicle at reasonable rates.

Generally, vehicles that are exported from Japan are subject to inspection in order to detect the presence of any radioactive substance, due to the incidence that took place at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

There was a leakage of radioactive substance from the plant after the earthquake in the year 2011. The explosion led to heavy contamination of the area with the fallout.

Many countries where Japanese used vehicles are exported require radiation inspection on vehicles. The vehicle must be certified to determine it is free from the presence of any radioactive substance. Those vehicles that do not pass the test are not allowed to be exported to other countries.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Japan, has set that vehicles exported from Japan should contain less than 0,3 micro sievert per hour scale. To make sure that the used vehicle imported is radiation free or that the level of radiation matches with the safety standards, an inspection is performed on vehicles before their exportation.

There are many organisations that perform complete inspection on used vehicles before they are exported from Japan. Various skilled and experienced organisations like Jevic, Jaai perform inspection on vehicles before they are exported. These organisations not only perform inspection on vehicles, but also on heavy machinery, containerised cargo, transportation vessels.

In the radiation inspection process, appropriate and advanced equipment is used to measure the radiation level. After a successful completion of inspection, a certificate is issued if the vehicle does not show any radioactive contamination.

There cannot be any vehicle exported from Japan that would be contaminated to a degree that would cause health hazard to any individual. But still, in order to make sure that the vehicle imported is free from any radioactive substance, it is essential to get the vehicle inspected and certified for the absence of radioactive contamination.

The Japanese authorities have been monitoring machinery, including vehicles, for any signs of contamination and there are strict controls in place preventing any contaminated goods leaving the ports.

All vehicles leaving Japanese ports undergo a rigorous pre-cleaning process as part of the existing bio-security checks.

Given the checks put in place by the Japanese it is mind boggling why our government has taken this route. Why is the instrument covering second hand vehicles only? We surely import more than just second-hand vehicles from Japan.

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