The fourth biannual survey covered 5,176 people between the ages of 20 and 69 living in prefectures of the Tohoku region hit hardest by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, as well as urban areas around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
The Consumer Affairs Agency conducted the survey online in August. The results were published Oct. 1.
According to the survey, 19.6 percent of the respondents said they were reluctant to purchase items produced in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This marked a 4-percentage-point increase from the 15.3 percent who answered the same in the February survey, and an all-time high since the surveys began.
In the August 2013 survey, 17.9 percent of the respondents said they were cautious about purchasing food from the prefecture, while 19.4 said the same in the February 2013 poll.
Some observers point to a serial manga as a possible reason for the rise in consumers' concerns about Fukushima food.
"We haven't been able to sufficiently analyze the results, but there were debates and media coverage on an incident involving the manga 'Oishinbo' just a few months ago," said Kumiko Bando, the agency's secretary-general. "This may have affected the results."
The incident refers to the publication of controversial episodes in the long-running food manga series in the weekly Big Comic Spirits magazine.
In the April 28 and May 12 installments of the comic, the main characters were shown developing nosebleeds after visiting the Fukushima plant, stirring up public debates that extended to the Fukushima prefectural government and the Cabinet.
In the latest poll, 70 percent of the respondents said they "do care" or "tend to care" where their food is produced, a 4-point increase from February.
Among those who said they cared, 24.7 percent gave "Because I want to buy food that doesn't contain radioactive substances" as the reason, up 4 points from the previous poll.
Source: Asahi Shimbun