Swine flu spreads in Japan; gov't warns of 'extremely serious' phase
Japan Today -- Feb 07
Japan's swine fever epidemic is spreading, with local authorities in five central and western prefectures saying Wednesday they are struggling to contain the highly contagious virus that was first reported in September.

"We are facing an extremely serious situation," farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa told a meeting at his ministry in Tokyo while instructing officials to take thorough countermeasures. The ministry also set up a special task force in Gifu Prefecture to step up containment efforts.

Spreading from farms in Gifu, the hog cholera virus was newly detected by prefectural and local authorities at farms in neighboring Aichi as well as in Osaka, Shiga and Nagano prefectures.

The total number of pigs to be culled at affected farms is expected to reach 15,000.

"It worries me that we don't know how the disease is spreading," said a pig farmer in Iida, Nagano Prefecture. "The only thing we can do is to thoroughly manage hygiene."

The disease does not affect humans even if meat from an infected animal is consumed, but it is fatal to pigs and boars.

Around 130 wild boars in Gifu and Aichi prefecture have tested positive for infection despite experts' initial assumption that it would not spread among the animals, which typically do not live in large herds.

Although there is a vaccine to counter classic swine fever, using it could prevent Japan from regaining its World Organization for Animal Health status as a CSF free country, hindering Japan's plan to expand pork exports. The organization already suspended Japan's such status after the outbreak in September.

Yasuhiro Ozato, a senior vice farm minister, expressed reluctance to use the vaccine, saying, "We will seek to resolve this by sticking to hygiene control standards."

The Aichi prefectural government began culling around 6,600 pigs at a farm in the city of Toyota with the help of the Ground Self-Defense Force, while banning shipments from six other farms located within 10 kilometers.

News source: Japan Today
May 22
Tokyo DisneySea has begun its largest expansion project ever. (NHK)
May 22
The Supreme Court and other legal professionals in Japan have hosted a symposium to mark the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the country's lay judge system. (NHK)
May 21
The Cultural Affairs Agency on Monday announced 16 additions to its Japan Heritage list of tangible and intangible cultural properties that have been preserved based on unique regional histories and traditions, including narratives. (Japan Times)
May 21
Japanese Emperor Naruhito transplanted rice seedlings in a paddy at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Monday. (NHK)
May 21
A 24-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of threatening to kill a member of a sister group of the popular girl band AKB48, police said. (Japan Today)
May 21
Japan's economy unexpectedly grew in the first quarter, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe some momentum to go ahead with his plan to raise the country's consumption tax this fall. (Nikkei)
May 21
A Japanese lawmaker said Monday he will not resign as a Diet member after opposition parties submitted a joint motion urging him to quit for alluding to Japan waging war with Russia to regain control of a group of disputed islands. (Japan Today)
May 21
A special six-car Mickey Mouse-themed shinkansen bullet train has begun serving southwestern Japan's Kyushu region, with images of the beloved character splashed across its yellow livery and interiors. (Kyodo)
May 21
ith tatami mats, noren curtains and a zen garden, this is one of the most stunning and affordable ways to travel in Japan. (soranews24.com)
May 20
Officials of Japan's southwestern island town of Yakushima say all the people stranded on a mountain have descended by Sunday evening. (NHK)