Japanese envoy to Taiwan disappointed by food import ban

Mikio Numata says Japan will continue to work with Taiwan

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William Lai, left, with Mikio Numata

William Lai, left, with Mikio Numata (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Japan’s top representative to Taiwan, Mikio Numata, said the referendum result calling for a ban on some Japanese food imports is disappointing, during an event in Taipei on Dec. 11, reported CNA.

Numata went on to say that Japan will strive to continue to cooperate with Taiwan.

On Nov. 24, a referendum calling for the continued prohibition of agricultural and food imports from areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 passed. Agriculture products from Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Tochigi prefectures will be banned from Taiwan.

Numata described the referendum outcome as “unexpected” and regrettable.

On reflection of recent events, Numata said that bilateral ties have made great progress in many fields since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) entered the Presidential Office in May 2016.

Numata closed his speech by saying he hoped for Japan-Taiwan ties to rise to a higher level in the future.

At the event, Taiwan Premier William Lai (賴清德), said bilateral relations have always been profound, and stronger emotional bonds have been formed in recent times due to mutual assistance in response to natural disasters in both Japan and Taiwan.

Lai said he hopes to continue to deepen exchanges in cultural, economic, diplomatic, and other areas.

The referendum outcome has taken the luster off Japan-Taiwan relations, with Japan suggesting they might dispute the ban through a World Trade Organization mechanism, and Japan’s Foreign Minister said Taiwan’s potential membership of the CPTPP trade agreement is problematized by the ban.

On the evening of Dec. 11, the Japan–Taiwan Exchange Association put on a celebratory dinner to honor the upcoming 85th birthday of the Emperor of Japan, Akihito. Akihito will turn 85 on Dec. 23, and he is expected to abdicate on April 30 2019.