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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

MOHW mulling change in ban on some food imports from Japan

Taipei, July 22 (CNA) The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is still in discussions with several agencies on whether to lift a ban on food imports from regions in Japan affected by a nuclear meltdown in 2011, a Cabinet spokesman said Wednesday.

Responding to a report Tuesday that Taiwan will partially lift a ban on food imports from the restricted areas, spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said that no timetable has been set for resolving the matter and that the decision will be up to the MOHW.

The Food and Drug Administration under the MOHW said the ministry is still communicating with organizations in Taiwan and Japan and indicated that no decision has been made yet.

According to the United Daily News, Taiwan is expected to lift a ban on food imports from Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures while the ban on food items from Fukushima prefecture will remain in place.

Taiwan imposed a ban on food originating from the five Japanese prefectures after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's northeastern coast on March 11, 2011, and triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The ban was issued to protect Taiwanese consumers amid fears that foods from these areas were contaminated by radioactive substances released during the nuclear meltdown.

After products originating from the five prefectures were found in March on store shelves in Taiwan with labels disguising their origins, Taiwan decided in mid-May to tighten requirements for Japanese food imports.

Japanese food exporters were asked to provide documents showing the origin of its products and obtain radiation inspection certificates for specific items.

Japan reacted angrily to the new measures. It insisted that the food items it was exporting to Taiwan were safe and threatened to take the case to the World Trade Organization.

Japanese parliamentarian Nobuo Kishi, a younger brother of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was one of several Japanese political heavyweights who visited Taiwan and called on the country to lift the food import ban as soon as possible.

The United Daily News reported, without citing any sources, that after lengthy discussions between Taiwan and Japan, the two sides have reached a consensus in which Taipei will lift a ban on food from all of the prefectures except for Fukushima, whose name remains sensitive to Taiwanese consumers.
Source: Focus Taiwan

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