BRUSSELS – The European Union has decided to lift its restrictions on imports of some foods from 10 prefectures, such as rice grown in Fukushima — site of the country’s worst nuclear accident.
The partial lifting, decided by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will take effect Dec. 1. The other nine prefectures are Akita, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba, Iwate, Nagano and Yamagata.
After the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the EU required the submission of certificates from radiation checks for some foods from a total of 13 prefectures, which also included Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka.
Following the removal of restrictions on Fukushima rice it will, in principle, be no longer necessary to prove that rice grown in other prefectures is not from Fukushima.
For Akita, the restrictions will be eliminated for wild vegetables. The prefecture will thus be fully exempted from EU restrictions.
Some foods from the other eight prefectures will also be excluded from the certification requirement.
In addition, some fisheries products from Fukushima, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Iwate — including crab, octopus, yellowtail, red sea bream and bluefin tuna — will be removed from the list.
The move by the EU may prompt countries and regions that also introduced import restrictions on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident, mainly Asian nations, to consider reviewing their measures, analysts said.
Meanwhile, the current certification requirement will remain in place for products including wild vegetables from Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka.
At a press conference on July 6, where a broad accord on an EU-Japan economic partnership agreement for free trade was announced, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the import restrictions on some foods from Fukushima and other prefectures would be eased after this year’s summer holidays.