BRUSSELS – The European Union has decided to stop requiring radiation screening for some food products imported from Fukushima Prefecture, informed sources have said.
It will be the first time for the EU to exclude foods items from Fukushima from its mandatory check list since the regulation was introduced after the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.
Specifically, the EU plans to exempt such items as vegetables, fruits other than persimmons and livestock products from the checks, the sources said Wednesday.
The EU will also stop requiring screening certificates for all items currently bound by the rule that are imported from Aomori and Saitama prefectures. Additionally, rice and some other foods produced in other prefectures will be removed from the list, while a handful of edible wild plants will be added.
Japan hopes that the EU’s easing of restrictions will help solidify the notion that there is no scientific basis for maintaining the regulations, sources familiar with the matter said.
South Korea bans imports of certain fishery products from Japan. Taiwan has strengthened its import regulations.
At a meeting of experts on Wednesday, the EU approved the deregulation proposal made by the European Commission based on analysis derived from sample radiation checks.
The commission, the executive arm of the EU, is expected to officially decide on the deregulation measures by the end of this year, the sources said.
In a meeting early this month in Luxembourg, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida asked his European Union counterpart, Federica Mogherini, to ease or scrap the import regulations.
The government aims to boost the nation’s food exports to ¥1 trillion by 2020. That compares to the ¥611.7 billion reported in 2014.
The country’s food exports to the EU member nations in 2014 totaled ¥33.2 billion, accounting for 5.4 percent of Japan’s overall food exports. Though the share was small, the EU-bound food exports shot up 17 percent from the preceding year.