National / Politics

IOC chief 'to confirm Japan's food products are safe,' Foreign Ministry says

Kyodo, JIJI

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach intends to assure participants in the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics that Japanese food products are safe following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

He conveyed his intentions to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, after two international organizations announced last year that the products are adequately managed, the ministry said.

A joint team of the International Atomic Energy Association and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in June last year that inspections for radioactive substances and distribution management of food from Japan were adequate, according to the ministry.

Bach told Abe he would inform the participating countries of the 2020 Games of this view, the ministry said.

This comes after South Korea announced last month that it would double the number of samples and frequency of inspections for radioactive substances on some processed foods and agricultural products from Japan.

The move by the South Korean government marks a tightening of measures first implemented following a meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Abe and Bach also agreed to jointly seek adoption later this year of a U.N. resolution calling for an “Olympic Truce” during the games in Tokyo next year.

It is customary for the United Nations to adopt a truce resolution before the summer and winter games, and Tokyo has been leading preparations for a new one as host of the upcoming sporting events.

Bach was quoted by the Foreign Ministry as telling Abe that he will work with Tokyo to have the resolution co-sponsored by as many countries as possible.

Abe and Bach also reaffirmed they will continue to work closely together to make the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a success, the ministry said.

The prime minister also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II over dinner and expressed Tokyo’s intention to help alleviate the country’s burden in accepting refugees from neighboring Syria. The two welcomed the strengthening of bilateral ties in security, economic and other areas, according to the ministry.

Earlier in the day, Abe attended a meeting on the universal health coverage initiative at the U.N. headquarters.

Abe emphasized in a speech the need to secure financial resources to realize the UHC initiative to guarantee all people access to basic health and medical services.

“Stable funding and appropriate budget allocations are essential (for countries) to provide the most vulnerable people with high-quality services,” Abe said.

He stressed that the government of each country should work as one to promote efforts concerning the initiative, with finance and health authorities cooperating with one another.

Looking back at his country’s reconstruction after World War II, Abe said, “Japan overcame chaos and poverty to introduce a health insurance system covering all of its citizens in 1961, thus achieving UHC.”

The UHC system “supported Japan’s attainment of socio-economic development and a society of health and longevity,” he added.

Noting that around half of the world’s population still do not have access to basic health care services, Abe said that he strongly seeks the realization of UHC systems throughout the world.

To support aid recipient countries, the prime minister indicated that Japan will cooperate with the private sector to develop human resources and improve health insurance coverage.

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