HONG KONG – The agricultural minister on Thursday welcomed Hong Kong’s decision to partially lift a ban on food imports from five prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima crisis and said exports to Hong Kong would expand.
“We are very grateful that there has been a relaxation on the restrictions on imports,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito told reporters at Hong Kong’s annual Food Expo, referring to the decision made in late July.
“We will continue with the necessary (work to lift the food ban on Fukushima.)”
Saito is scheduled to meet with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday.
Imports of foods including vegetables, fruit, milk, milk-based beverages and formula from Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma can resume as long as an exporter certificate and a certificate attesting that their radiation levels comply with the guidelines are provided.
But the import ban on food from Fukushima Prefecture, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant suffered a triple core meltdown, remains in place.
“Regardless of any restrictions, our exports to Hong Kong are continuing to expand. We sincerely hope that thanks to (the food expo), there will be a further increase in our exports to Hong Kong,” Saito said.
Hong Kong is the largest destination for Japanese produce, accounting for about a quarter of all exports, Saito said.
Data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council show that Japan’s food exports to Hong Kong amounted to $97 million in January, accounting for over 24 percent of such exports.
Currently, only China and Taiwan maintain a comprehensive ban on food imports from certain areas in Japan.
The food fair, featuring more than 1,500 exhibitors from some 20 countries, will run through Monday.