• Directory of Taiwan

Japanese eager to import Taiwanese custard, wax apples after China ban

Japanese netizens fascinated by latest Taiwanese fruits to be banned by China

Custard apples (left), wax apples. (CNA photos)

Custard apples (left), wax apples. (CNA photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japanese consumers, who rarely if ever have eaten Taiwan-grown custard apples and wax apples, are eager to try the fruits now that China has banned them.

On Sunday (Sept. 19), the Department of Animal and Plant Quarantine under China's General Administration of Customs halted imports of Taiwanese custard apples and wax apples, claiming that several shipments of the fruits had been infested with citrus mealybugs, which are native to Asia. China's sudden ban follows a similar suspension of pineapple imports in February.

On Feb. 26, China banned the import of Taiwan's pineapples under the pretense of alleged infestations of three species of scale insects, including passionvine mealybugs, gray pineapple mealybugs, and Melanaspis smiles. Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) chastised China for its “unilateral decision,” which he deemed “unacceptable.”

Japanese media reported that Taiwan was being "bullied" over its pineapple exports, and many outraged Japanese vowed to buy Taiwanese pineapples to show their support. To show solidarity with Taiwan, Japanese companies had pre-ordered over 6,000 metric tons by March 4 while "Taiwanese pineapple fever" quickly spread among consumers across Japan.

Over the first six months of this year, China notified Taiwan of instances of mealybugs in 13 shipments of custard apples and six shipments of wax apples, but Chen said that China did not present any scientific evidence of the pests. The latest ban on Taiwanese fruits has piqued Japanese netizens' interest in custard apples and wax apples, which many of them have yet to sample.

Impressed by the taste of Taiwanese pineapples, Japanese are now hoping custard apples and wax apples will be exported to their country as well. One netizen mentioned that during a trip to Taiwan, they had tried to bring wax apples back with them but were not allowed to take the fruit aboard their flight back to Japan.

Another netizen recalled spotting custard apples at a market in Taiwan but not buying any because they did not understand how to eat them. Members of the online forum 5channel who had eaten both fruits while visiting Taiwan described the experience in detail, enticing readers to hope for a chance to savor them.

Many recalled first becoming aware of custard apples through a travel advertisement by Japanese comedian Shimura Ken and Japanese-Taiwanese actor Kaneshiro Takeshi. Others observed that China's import ban on fruits from Taiwan shows that the latter is an independent country.

On Monday (Sept. 20), Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) posted an illustration of the two fruits and in Japanese stated that China had announced a ban on their import. He then encouraged Japanese to try Taiwan-grown versions of the exotic fruits, quickly gaining over 21,000 likes, 9,800 retweets, and 900 comments.