The Executive Yuan yesterday said it does not plan to lift a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures, one day after the Ministry of Health and Welfare suggested it might change import restrictions.
Food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures have been suspended since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.
The government might consider easing the rules on non-contaminated products from those areas, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said on Monday.
The comment rekindled a debate about Japanese food products, with critics and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) accusing the government of attempting to trade food safety for entry into the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The Executive Yuan disputed the allegation, saying there is no plan to lift or change the ban, and the government would not use public health and safety as a bargaining chip.
The Executive Yuan is not in talks with the ministry about reviewing the ban and there is no plan to lift it, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.
The government will protect food safety and public health, and take international and scientific standards into consideration when dealing with Japanese food imports, Hsu said, reiterating the government’s position since 2016.
“There is no such thing as trading the ban for the CPTPP, and there is no timetable for the trade negotiation,” Hsu said.
The Cabinet has not changed its position on the regulations, Office of Food Safety Director Sheu Fuu (許輔) said.
A KMT campaign against deregulating Japanese food imports in 2016 indicated strong public disapproval of allowing food imports from the five prefectures, KMT caucus secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said.
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