Japan could initiate WTO dispute complaint against Taiwan’s ban on Fukushima food

People of Taiwan voted to keep the ban in place on Japanese foods produced in disaster-affected areas

Anti-Fukushima food protest

Anti-Fukushima food protest (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In light of Taiwan’s decision to ban food imports from a number of areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster through a referendum in the 9-in-1 elections on Nov. 24, a Japanese official said the government will not rule out the possibility of initiating dispute settlement proceedings in the World Trade Organization over the case.

The remarks were made by Foreign Minister Taro Kono in a legislative interpellation session today. He said he had hoped Taiwan would eventually remove the import restrictions on scientific grounds, and expressed regret over the outcome of the referendum, reported CNA.

A host of options will be put on the table by the Japanese government in response to Taiwan’s move, one of them being resorting to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, Kono pointed out.

The people of Taiwan have decided the island will maintain prohibition of agricultural imports and food from the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Chiba, with nearly 7.8 million voters favoring the ban, according to Central Election Commission.

Import restrictions against Japanese produce, fishery goods, and food products have been implemented by a number of countries following one of the most catastrophic incidents in the history of Japan. There are still eight nations or areas including China, the U.S., South Korea, and Singapore that have partial import bans in place.

In a ruling this February, WTO sided with Japan over a complaint lodged in 2015 involving Seoul’s measure to institute a blanket ban on some types of fishery products from Japan. South Korea appealed the ruling in April.