National

China's state-run TV asked to explain false report on imported Japanese food

Kyodo

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing has sought an explanation from China’s state-run broadcaster as to why a “groundless” report casting doubt on the safety of Japanese food products was aired earlier this month, a senior embassy official said.

The embassy’s request, made in a letter earlier this week to China Central Television (CCTV), comes after many Chinese stores pulled Japanese food products from their shelves last week in the wake of the report.

The report falsely claimed that two items imported by a Japanese company were from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that CCTV has yet to respond to the letter.

On March 15, a segment of an annual two-hour TV program that coincided with World Consumer Rights Day said Japanese food from Fukushima or surrounding areas, the import of which Beijing has banned since the disaster began, have been sold in China.

It specifically suggested that two food products sold under the popular Muji brand were from prefectures covered by China’s import prohibition.

Muji operator Ryohin Keikaku Co., which sells household goods and food items, denied the claim the following day, saying it was likely based on a mix-up over the address of its head office and the origins of the products.

The food items were not produced in prefectures covered by China’s import ban, but Ryohin Keikaku is headquartered in Tokyo, which is covered by the restriction.

Japanese law requires that the name of a company selling a product and its headquarters be printed on the package.

Following the TV program, which often targets well-known foreign brands, several Chinese stores and online shops stopped selling all kinds of Japanese food products for what they called safety checks.

The report has faced criticism from Chinese consumers and other media outlets, and shops in major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, started restoring Japanese products to their shelves this week.