• Kyodo

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A farm ministry official has met with a senior Chinese official in charge of food inspections to request that restrictions be eased of foods from areas tainted by radiation by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, sources said Sunday.

During the meeting Friday in Beijing, a director-general at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry stressed the safety of the food to Chinese officials, the sources added.

China bans imports of food produced in 10 prefectures, including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima, that were affected by the triple core meltdown.

The start of the talks between Asia’s two biggest economies reflects an improvement in ties that had deteriorated sharply since Tokyo bought most of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The isles are also claimed by Beijing and Taiwan. Both countries’ leaders have met twice since last November, indicating a thaw in relations.

The sale and use of Japanese food products dropped sharply at department stores, supermarkets and restaurants in China after the import ban. But demand has remained strong.

The two countries are expected to work toward setting up a later meeting by higher-ranking officials.