Japan urges Taiwan to handle food import ban soon

Mitsuo Ohashi, the chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, has urged Taiwan to address its ban on agricultural imports from Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster soon.

"It is my sincere hope that Taiwan would soon follow in the footsteps of the United States and European Union and to properly address the issue according to scientific evidence and international standards," said Ohashi at the opening of a bilateral trade and economic dialogue held virtually Tuesday.

Taiwan has banned imports of food products from five prefectures in Japan --Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tochigi -- following a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 that was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Taiwan's restrictions have remained in place despite repeated protests from the Japanese government. In a referendum in November 2018, Taiwan's electorate voted to maintain the ban by a 78-22 percent margin.

Ohashi said the U.S. removed all of its restrictions on food products from the Japanese prefectures affected by the disaster in September 2021, a hint that Taiwan should do the same.

"If Taiwan lifts its import restrictions like the U.S., Japan will never export food products that pose health risks to Taiwan," pledged Ohashi, whose agency is responsible for Japan's ties with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Asked about Ohashi's remarks, Chiou I-jen (???), the chairman of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association who led Taiwan's delegation in Tuesday's talks, denied that the Japanese official had put pressure on Taiwan, saying Tokyo has raised the topic with Taipei for years.

Chiou said there was no timeline for resolving the issue and that Taiwan's government would determine whether to lift the ban based on the principle of protecting the health of Taiwan's people.

Meanwhile, Ohashi said Japan welcomed Taiwan's application to join the Tokyo-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) last September and would continue to discuss economic cooperation with Taiwan through various means.

Speaking about Taiwan's bid to join the CPTPP, Chiou said Taiwan looked forward to commencing constructive accession talks with Japan.

Taiwan plays an important role in the global supply chain and trade and its inclusion in the CPTPP would be positive for both the trade pact and Taiwan-Japan relations, Chiou said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel