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Taiwan to ease food import ban on Japan except Fukushima

  • November 7, 2016
  • , Kyodo News , 20:16
  • English Press

Taiwan plans to keep its ban on import of all food products from Fukushima but conditionally allow imports of certain products from four other Japanese prefectures banned in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a government proposal made at a legislative committee Monday.

 

Following the multiple meltdowns at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, Taiwan banned food imports from Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures, and has been conducting random radiation checks on eight categories of food products imported from Japan.

 

According to the two-stage proposal made by Deputy Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung, the ban on fruits, vegetables and seafood produced in Fukushima, as well as dairy products, baby food, mineral water and seaweed products, would remain in place in the first stage, as would a ban on food products with “high safety risks” from the other four prefectures.

 

But food products with “low safety risks” from the four other prefectures would be allowed, provided they carry prefecture-specific labels of origin and certified documents proving they passed radiation inspection.

 

As for the food products from the remaining 42 prefectures, they would have to carry certified labels of origin, as is currently the case.

 

Under the plan, Taiwan would continue to ban imports of Japanese wild mushrooms, wild vegetables, and meat and other products from wild animals. A ban on imports of bamboo shoots, chestnuts, rice and eels from certain areas of 14 Japanese prefectures will also stay in place.

 

Officials were tightlipped about when the new measures will be promulgated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, but diplomatic insiders told Kyodo News that Japan hopes they will come into force as early as this month.

 

The implementation of the first stage of the plan would serve as a reference for the further relaxation of the restrictions at the second stage, possibly about six months later, according to Chen.

 

In addition to adjusting the restrictions, Taiwan and Japan are negotiating a memorandum of understanding on food safety and cooperation in food trade.

 

Taiwanese officials said that during bilateral negotiations on the MOU, negotiators will propose to the Japanese side that Japanese exporters produce both Japanese- and Chinese-language labels in Japan and that Japan allow Taiwan to send inspectors there.

 

Negotiations on the MOU began in May last year after some Japanese products were found to carry Chinese-language labels showing them to be from places different from the actual place of origin.

 

Since then, Taiwan has tightened inspections, requiring food products imported from Japan carry prefecture-specific labels of origin, and some food products from certain prefectures to carry documents proving they passed radiation checks.

 

However, Japan has criticized Taiwan for failing to base the measure on scientific grounds, while it has also been urging Taiwan to lift the ban on food imports from the five Japanese prefectures.

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