Japan talks come on heels of referendum

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Nov 27, 2018 - Page 3

Taiwan and Japan are to hold their annual economic and trade meeting in Taipei this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chairman Mitsuo Ohashi are to lead delegations to the talks on Thursday and Friday, it said.

At last year’s meeting in Tokyo, the two associations signed two memorandums of understanding designed to enhance bilateral cooperation and exchanges.

The conference, the first of which was in 1976, comes at a sensitive time, as voters on Saturday approved a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-initiated referendum to maintain a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from five Japanese prefectures imposed after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata on Sunday said the issue had been politicized and that Tokyo hoped the ban would be lifted soon.

Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said officials would engage in talks with Japan about the referendum result to ensure Tokyo’s understanding and that cordial relations are not affected.

Lee declined to say whether the referendum would be discussed at this week’s meetings, saying only that issues pertaining to economic and trade relations would be on the agenda.

The ban on food products was imposed during the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and tightened in 2015 after products from some of the prefectures were found in local stores.