HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government announced Friday it is relaxing a seven-year-old ban on food imports from four Japanese prefectures that was imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, according to the government gazette.
Items including vegetables, fruit, milk, milk beverages and milk formula from Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma will be allowed to be imported to Hong Kong starting noon Tuesday.
Food imports from those prefectures will be allowed if they are sent with a certificate attesting that radiation levels do not exceed guideline levels, and with an exporter certificate.
But the existing ban on food imports from Fukushima will stay in effect.
Three samples of vegetables imported from Chiba on March 23, 2011, showed radiation levels in excess of the guideline, prompting Hong Kong to impose the ban.
Since 2016, no samples have been found with radiation contamination, according to a government paper.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, a special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both pushed for lifting the ban during separate visits to Hong Kong in recent months.
Hong Kong is the largest export destination for Japanese foodstuffs. Hong Kong Trade Development Council figures show Japan’s food exports to Hong Kong amounted to $97 million (761 million Hong Kong dollars) in January, accounting for over 24 percent of such exports.
Only China and Taiwan maintain a comprehensive ban on food imports from the radiation-contaminated areas in Japan.