Gov’t to lift ban on Japanese food imports


Source: China Post’t-to.htm

March 12, 2016,

TAIPEI — Taiwan hopes to hold a new round of negotiations with Japan to discuss the issue of Japanese food imports to Taiwan, as it is moving toward lifting a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures that were affected by radiation fallout from the Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant in 2011, a Taiwanese official said Friday.

“We have expressed the hope to Japan of holding a new round of negotiations,” but Japan has not yet given a reply, said Tsai Ming-yaw, secretary general of the Association of East Asian Relations, which is in charge of ties with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

Tsai noted that many countries have already opened their doors to Japanese food imports from these areas, saying that Taiwan is also working toward lifting the ban on food imports from the five Japanese prefectures.

The government, in the meantime, will continue to ensure food safety, he said.

Tsai’s remarks came after Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement earlier Friday saying that President Ma Ying-jeou has written to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to express his appreciation for Japan’s concern in the aftermath of a Feb. 6 earthquake in southern Taiwan, and to promise to properly handle the issue of whether to lift an import ban on Japanese food products from areas affected by Japan’s 2011 nuclear meltdown.

Ma’s Attitude

On the food import ban, Ma said he has directed the relevant agencies to continue communication with all sectors and to handle the matter properly.

Asked about the issue, Japan’s representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata told reporters that Japan has asked Taiwan to resolve the food issue and is still awaiting a final decision from Taiwan’s government.

If the issue is not resolved before Ma steps down in May, Japan will bring up the issue with the new government, he said on the sidelines of a memorial in Taipei Friday to mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that struck off northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

Taiwan currently bans food imports from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba, all of which were affected by a meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 after Japan was struck by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Food Is Safe: Japanese Official

Since last year, Japan has demanded that Taiwan lift the ban, and has urged Taiwan to deal with the food issue based on scientific evidence.

Japanese officials have pledged that their food is safe to consume.

For example, agricultural officials in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas in the 2011 disaster, said they have purchased machines from the United States to test the safety of produce and aqua products from the prefecture.

The tests have found 99.9 percent of the food products in the prefecture to be safe, one official said during a media tour of the prefecture. Only food products that pass the tests will be allowed to enter the market, he promised.

Another official also guaranteed that food products from Fukushima on the market are safe for consumption, hoping that Taiwan will lift its ban as soon as possible.