Okinawa snow events halted after Japan radiation fears

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Officials in Japan's Okinawa prefecture have been forced to cancel two children's snow events amid residents' fears the snow was radioactive.

About 600kg of snow had been flown into Naha city from north-eastern Japan.

Reports say that residents expressed fears the snow had been contaminated in the wake of the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant.

But officials said the snow was from an area 400km (248 miles) from Fukushima and had undergone several safety tests.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was badly damaged by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. It is now in a state of "cold shutdown".

"We explained that the snow was good to play with because we checked for contamination multiple times in Aomori and Okinawa, too," a Naha city official is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Japan's Mainichi Daily News reported that some of the concerned residents were evacuees from the Tohoku area, which was hit by the earthquake and tsunami last March.

A Naha city official is also quoted by the paper as saying: "The snow was found to be safe in checks and we are sorry for the children who waited for the snow, but we considered the worries of evacuees".

One of the cancelled events was due to take place on Thursday, at a children's hall in the Matsuo area of the city, with the second scheduled for Friday.

The snow events have become a traditional fixture in the Okinawa prefecture, which has a sub-tropical climate. Air force soldiers who go for training in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture bring the snow back with them.

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