The Influence of Government Credibility on the Attitudes of Consumers to Radioactive Material in Food

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Masayuki FUJIOKA, Hirosaki-Gakuin University, Japan
Since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, there has been a marked dichotomy in the attitudes of Japanese consumers to the issue of radioactive material in food. On the one hand, some people maintain that it is simply too dangerous to eat vegetables, fruits, and fish produced or caught near Fukushima, while on the other, some people and the government say that the risk of radioactivity is minimal as it has been scientifically assessed. It remains unclear why this dichotomy in opinions has persisted.

The objectives of this study are, first, to determine whether watching television affects the consciousness and behavior of consumers in relation to radioactive material. Secondly, it is important to assess how opinions on government credibility influence the consciousness and behavior of consumers.

The data utilized in this study are derived from a postal survey carried out in the city of Tokyo and surrounding areas in 2015. As these data comprised a two-stage stratified random sample (n = 1,529), multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the effects of television watching and the credibility of the government.

The results of this study suggest that watching television exerts no significant effect on either the anxiety or behavior of consumers. Secondly, as consumers afford less and less credibility to the government, the more anxious they are likely to become and they will consume less food produced near Fukushima.

The results of this study suggest that the main reason people are anxious about food produced near Fukushima is because they do not trust the government. To remedy this, additional transparent and politically neutral information is needed to reduce consumer skepticism about food risk. However, if this information is not provided, consumers are likely to search for alternative information to avoid anxiety about food risks.