Taiwan to vote on whether to maintain ban of some Japanese food products in referendum next month

Kyodo

Taiwan will hold a referendum during local elections next month on whether to maintain a ban on food products from five Japanese prefectures imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Central Election Commission said Tuesday.

The referendum is among at least seven to be held on Nov. 24 when voting for mayors and councilors of municipalities, counties and townships, among other positions, takes place across Taiwan.

In November 2016, the government was considering easing the ban on the food imports in question in two stages.

In the first stage, the ban on imports of all food products from Fukushima Prefecture would remain in place but the ban on certain food imports, such as those with “low safety risks,” from nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures would be lifted.

In the second stage, which was to be implemented about six months later, restrictions would be further relaxed.

But that plan was strongly opposed by the opposition Nationalist Party (KMT), which questioned the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the imported products.

The government, led by the Democratic Progressive Party, backed away from the plan following revelations that banned food products had nevertheless slipped into the country and been sold.

The referendum to maintain the ban was initiated by the KMT, as was another one approved Tuesday over whether or not Taiwan should cease the construction or expansion of coal-fired power plants. An already approved one seeks to phase out thermal power plants.

Other referendums approved so far including those relating to same-sex marriage and the name under which Taiwan’s sports teams should participate in future international events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The committee is scheduled to meet again next week to decide on three more referendum proposals.