Beijing asked to admit guilt for ‘gyoza’

Kyodo News

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada recently asked Beijing to compile an interim report admitting the frozen dumplings that sickened 10 people in Japan about two years ago were laced with poison in China, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Okada made the request during talks with counterpart Yang Jiechi in Shanghai on Sept. 28, the sources said.

Okada made the request because there has been little progress in solving the cases, they said. Japan hopes to get the report before Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visits China next year, the sources said.

At the meeting with Yang, Okada said chances are high that the dumplings, known as “gyoza,” were laced with poison in China, citing a similar food poisoning there that was linked to the same food maker, the sources said.

Although Okada called on China to specify exactly where the frozen dumplings were contaminated, Yang replied that it is difficult to determine the location since the crime was an international one, the sources said, adding that Okada pressed China for a prompt response.

The issue also was discussed at the summit between Hatoyama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Oct. 10. Hatoyama also pressured China to specify where the poison came into play, but Wen only said he was briefed by the top investigative officer on the matter.

China has not responded on the matter since then, although it agreed with Japan at the summit to hold regular ministerial meetings on food safety.

The pesticide-tainted dumplings sickened 10 people in Japan, including a 5-year-old girl, from December 2007 to January 2008.

Subsequently , several Japanese companies with ties to Chinese food producers got caught up in food scandals. In many cases, hazardous chemicals were believed to have penetrated packaging during production in China.

The spate of food scandals sparked fears about food imported from China.