The Fukushima sunflower projects follow the lead of Chernobyl, where a large quantity of the flowers were also planted widely in the aftermath of 1986 nuclear accident.
Fukushima’s nuclear power plant has been leaking radiation into the environment since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struckJapan’s northeast coast, leaving an estimated 23,000 dead or missing.
Scientists believe that sunflowers at their full height can absorb large quantities of radioactive caesium, resulting in their growing presence across the Fukushima landscape in order to help decontaminate soil.
Officials are hoping that the soil will not only benefit from the project but also the local economy, as they aim to attract a growing number of tourists back to the region with the sunflower fields.
One project includes five local farmers who have joined forces with e-Bookland Inc, a Tokyo-based e-book publishing company, to plant sunflowers in plots covering 1.3 hectares which are currently in bloom.
Another experimental initiative has been launched by Masamichi Yamashiti, a space agriculture professor at Japan Aerespace Exploration Agency, who has planted sunflower seeds in three farmland plots in the region.