Taoyuan mayor accused of lobbying for Japan imports

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Nov 26, 2017 - Page 3

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) has promised the governor of Chiba Prefecture to help facilitate the lifting of an import ban on Japanese food products from Chiba and other prefectures, former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said.

Lo made the assertion on Facebook yesterday, citing two reports by Japanese media, of which he provided a Chinese translation.

Japanese broadcaster NHK on Wednesday said Cheng had expressed hope that he could help lift the import ban during a meeting with Chiba Governor Kensaku Morita in Chiba in August, a promise “he is very desperate to fulfill,” and that he on Wednesday invited Morita to visit Taiwan to deliberate how to approach the issue.

The Sankei Shimbun quoted Cheng as saying after a meeting with Morita on Thursday that he would convey his hope that the ban could be relaxed to the government, so that products from Chiba could feature at an agricultural expo in Taoyuan in April next year.

“Whether we should lift the import ban is open for discussion, but it concerns public health, so how could Cheng, a local government head, make any promises about it?” Lo said, demanding an explanation from Cheng.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster, the government banned imports of food produced in Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.

It tightened restrictions in 2015, when products from those prefectures were discovered on the market, drawing strong criticism from the Japanese government.

The government last year said it was considering lifting the ban on food imports from all prefectures but Fukushima, but the idea ran into heavy opposition.

Taoyuan Department of Public Information Director Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that Cheng made his stance clear at a joint news conference with Morita in Taoyuan on Thursday, in which the mayor said all products to be displayed at the agricultural expo must conform to Taiwanese regulations.

Lo’s “attempts to twist others’ remarks to campaign for himself ado not merit a reply,” Chang said.

Lo has expressed his intent to run for Taipei mayor in next year’s local elections.

Additional reporting by Hsieh Wu-hsiung and Shih Hsiao-kuang