Hong Kong negative on easing import curbs on food from Fukushima-area prefectures

JIJI

A senior Hong Kong official on Wednesday sounded negative about easing the import curbs the region imposed on some food from five Japanese prefectures following the severe nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Visiting Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi called on Hong Kong to relax the import restrictions during his meeting with Hong Kong’s Food and Health Secretary Ko Wing-man the same day.

But Ko replied that it is difficult to ease the curbs at the moment. The five prefectures in question are Fukushima, home to the crippled nuclear power plant, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba.

As steps toward a possible easing of the import curbs, Hayashi and Ko agreed to launch regular talks among senior officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau.

In addition, Japan will provide Hong Kong with information on the nuclear crisis and radiation monitoring data for Japanese agriculture, forestry and fisheries products, and will invite experts of the Hong Kong bureau to Japan to give explanations about the country’s system to prevent the distribution of food tainted with radioactive substances, according to the agreement.