TAIPEI – Lifting the ban on food imports from five prefectures imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is key for Taiwan to join any economic deals with Japan or other countries in the region, a Japanese business group in Taipei said.
In its annual white paper released Friday, the Taipei branch of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Japanese business community in Taipei urged the Taiwan government to relax or lift restrictions on the food ban imposed over eight years ago.
“We hope the Taiwan government will change all practices and rules that run counter to international practices and are unique only in Taiwan, so it can ink any economic partnership agreement of its wish,” it said, highlighting the Japan food export ban.
The local Japanese chamber with 480 member companies called on the government to base its decisions on scientific evidence and international standards.
It pointed out that as of Aug. 1, all food products imported from Japan have passed inspections since March 15, 2011, while the Japanese government conducts strict inspections on all food products and only those that are safe can be sold at markets or exported.
It also emphasized that of the 54 countries or regions that imposed restrictions on Japanese food products after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, 32 of them had completely lifted their bans as of July.
The European Union and the United States have also lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions, though six countries or regions — including South Korea, China and Taiwan — continue a blanket ban on food products from Fukushima and certain adjacent prefectures.
National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling, who accepted the white paper on the government’s behalf, told chamber members that more persuasion of the Taiwanese public is needed.
A public referendum on maintaining the ban, initiated by the main opposition Kuomintang, successfully passed in November of last year.
Chen dismissed speculation that Japan will not begin talks with Taiwan on joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership until the food ban issue is addressed, saying they are two different matters.
Go Ishikawa, chairman of the Japanese chamber, said all suggestions the chamber made in the white paper are purely business without taking into any consideration of Taiwan’s elections, which are scheduled for January.
No matter who wins the election, Ishikawa said, the chamber will continue to urge the new government to ease or lift the ban.