With the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo still leaking radiation, demand for personal Geiger counters has been soaring with manufacturers struggling to keep pace with demand.
In Tokyo’s electronics mecca of Akihabara, many stores have run out of the devices.
Akibaoo sales manager Makoto Ogasawara explains:
“Nobody even looked at or even knew the name of the Geiger counter, but ever since the massive earthquake struck, people became very interested, and those who were not interested before are buying them. Now, we are selling 100 times more.”
Some residents say they are not sure who to trust for their information, so they’ve decided to check the latest radiation levels for themselves.
Forty-eight year-old restaurant chef Bruno Menard explaines:
“There were some warnings that the level is very high around Fukushima and especially when it’s raining we have to be concerned.”
Keeping them on edge, are warnings of above safety levels of radiation readings found in some food grown in areas around the nuclear plant, as well as in tap water.
Fuji Electric is one of Japan’s Geiger counter manufacturers. Its factory workers have been operating at full shift and with production up five-fold since the March 11 quake.
CEO Mochihiro Kitazawa says his company has also benefited from efforts to make the devices less complex so anybody can use them.
“Of course, there was the earthquake, but in the past 2-3 years, we have been trying to produce Geiger counters that are easier to operate.”
Most of the Geiger counters at this factory are hand-made, taking workers roughly three to four months to complete.
Bottom line: Japanese consumers snap up Geiger counters amid radiation fears, as manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand.