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Japanese envoy to Taiwan vouches for safety of Fukushima foods

Debate over Japanese food ban revived as nuclear meltdown marks one decade

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Agricultural products from Fukushima in a shop in Tokyo 

Agricultural products from Fukushima in a shop in Tokyo  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan's chief representative in Taiwan urged the country Wednesday (March 10) to remove import restrictions on foods from Japanese regions hit by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Hiroyasu Izumi, chief representative of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office, said 99.999 percent of food products from affected areas have passed safety standards. It’s Taiwan’s call whether or not to lift the ban, UDN quoted him as saying.

The Japanese official made the remark at an exhibition in Taipei marking the 10th anniversary of the incident. The two countries have strengthened their bond since the tragic event, when Taiwanese donated about US$252 million to their neighbor for disaster relief.

Currently, food and agricultural products from Japan's Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures are prohibited from entering Taiwan. The ban was introduced in March 2011 over concerns about radioactive contamination following the disaster.

The Taiwanese public remains wary about the safety of the food from these areas and opposed their re-entry in a 2018 referendum. The products have also proven to be a thorny issue in Taiwan’s bid to join the Japan-led trade bloc the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

According to a recent survey conducted by the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan, 8.1 percent of residents in 11 prefectures said they would hesitate to buy food from the earthquake-affected areas — the fewest ever — reported CNA. An investigation into the Fukushima nuclear meltdown reportedly detected radioactive contamination at two reactors at the plant, complicating the cleanup effort at the facility.