Sat, Feb 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan’s representative to Japan calls to lift ban

Staff Writer, with CNA

It has been nearly seven years since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, and Taiwan should lift its ban on food products from Japanese prefectures affected by the disaster based on principles of free trade and scientific data, Taiwan’s Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said in an interview.

Taiwan should come up with a policy that is based on the government’s years of food product testing and that takes into consideration what many developed countries in the West are doing about the situation, Hsieh said.

Following the disaster in March 2011, Taiwan imposed a ban on food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, fearing that they could contain radioactive substances.

This action was in line with global practices at the time, as 54 countries implementing restrictions on certain Japanese goods following the meltdown, but several countries have eased bans in recent years, Hsieh said.

The US announced in September last year and the EU in November that they would partially lift the ban on certain Japanese products imposed after the disaster.

As Taiwan is the third-largest importer of Japanese food, the Japanese government has asked Taipei to reconsider its ban on several occasions.

However, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has been sympathetic to the appeals, the idea has been met with strong public resistance.

Not long after the DPP took power in May 2016, there was talk of lifting the ban except for food products from Fukushima, but the plan was shelved after stiff opposition from civil groups and opposition parties.

Hsieh’s comments came after Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) recommended that the government ease rules on non-contaminated food products from Japan.

Amid these appeals, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) on Tuesday said that the government would look at three factors — public health, global standards and scientific data — in determining how it wants to move forward.

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