Reputational damage and the Fukushima disaster: an analysis of seafood in Japan
As the levels of radioactivity in seafood have fallen back into the safe range, Fukushima fisheries are considering reopening. However, even if seafood from the Fukushima area were sufficiently safe to distribute to seafood markets, its value may be undermined because of the damage done to its reputation by the Fukushima disaster. We quantified consumers’ preferences for seafood from Fukushima and adjacent prefectures to examine the extent of the reputational damage to Fukushima seafood. We conducted a choice experiment to measure consumers’ willingness to pay for seafood from the Fukushima area. We also measured the impact of displaying ecolabels [Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Marine Eco-label Japan (MEL)] on Fukushima products. The results indicated that Fukushima products are considerably discounted compared with products displayed as domestic; even products from adjacent prefectures are substantially discounted. By contrast, consumers positively evaluated locally labeled products. We also found that demersal fish are discounted more than pelagic fish that inhabit the ocean surface off the shore of Fukushima.