SINGAPORE – Singapore has agreed to “positively” consider a request to ease import restrictions on food and other farm products from Fukushima Prefecture, according to Japanese officials.
Lawrence Wong, Singapore’s national development minister, said in a meeting Sunday with agriculture minister Hiroshi Moriyama that he will consider the request while examining moves on the matter by the European Union and others.
Moriyama told reporters after the meeting that he explained the EU’s recent decision and asked Wong to ease the restrictions based on scientific grounds.
The EU on Saturday substantially eased its import restrictions on Japanese food and farm products, including those from Fukushima Prefecture. The curbs were introduced after the March 2011 crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Under the EU’s previous rules, all Fukushima food products, excluding alcohol, were required to arrive with radiation inspection certificates.
Despite easing its requirements, the EU still continues to restrict imports of such items as rice, mushrooms and certain seafood products.
Singapore’s ban on certain Fukushima products began in 2011.
“I explained the EU’s step to ease” restrictions, Moriyama told Japanese journalists in Singapore.
Wong said Singapore “would take proactive steps by studying cases such as the EU’s latest step,” Moriyama told reporters after the talks.
Fukushima was a key player in Japanese agriculture before the March 2011 tsunami that swamped the nuclear plant and triggered a triple core meltdown, sending plumes of radioactive fallout over much of the prefecture.
Thousands of people were evacuated and huge tracts of land were rendered unfarmable, leaving the Fukushima brand contaminated both domestically and internationally.
The government has been encouraging countries across the globe to ease their trade restrictions on Japanese food after the nuclear crisis.
At least 14 countries, including Australia and Thailand, have abolished their restrictions, but dozens continue to maintain select regulations, according to Kyodo News.