Sun, Dec 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT stands by food ban in face of consequences

FEARED RESPONSE:KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin said ties with Japan should not be built on meeting Tokyo’s demands, citing a trade deficit with the nation

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday continued to defend its initiation of a referendum demanding that the government maintain a ban on certain Japanese food imports, which Tokyo has said could thwart Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

While Japan’s attitude is understandable, the import of potentially contaminated food products from five Japanese prefectures after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster is an issue that concerns people’s health and must be dealt with carefully, KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said on the sidelines of a religious event in New Taipei City.

“When the KMT was in power, we told Japan that we only deemed food safety certificates reliable if they came from Japanese government institutions, but it still insisted that such certificates be provided by private bodies,” Wu said.

Considering Japan’s refusal, the KMT administration did not permit imports of Japanese produce from the prefectures to safeguard the public’s health and safety, Wu said, urging Japan to make necessary changes to its food safety certificate system.

“It is more reliable to have certificates from government bodies,” he added.

Wu’s remarks came one day after Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono said in Tokyo that Taiwan’s passage of the referendum on Nov. 24 to retain a ban on food imports from the five prefectures had unfortunately made its bid to join the Japan-led CPTPP unlikely.

Kono said that the Japanese government did not rule out taking the issue to the WTO, of which Taiwan is a member.

The government said it would continue to seek Japan’s support and understanding.

However, the initiator of the referendum, KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), said that Taiwan-Japan ties should not be built on meeting Japan’s demands, particularly given that the two sides have had an uneven trade relationship, considering that Taiwan has a NT$600 billion (US$19.45 billion) trade deficit with Japan.

Asked whether he was worried that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government would blame the KMT if Taiwan were unable to join the CPTPP, Wu said that there are more requirements to joining a trade partnership.

However, former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) yesterday on Facebook asked whether Hau was speaking from an economic perspective, or one based on anti-Japanese nationalism.

“Last year, China had a trade deficit of US$90 billion with Taiwan. Is Hau going to say that China has bought too many products from us?” Lin asked.

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