• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi vowed Thursday to do all he can to have remaining food import restrictions, imposed by foreign countries in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, lifted based on science.

"It is extremely regrettable that some countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on imports of Japanese food products, even a decade after the disaster," Motegi said in a statement on the 10th anniversary of the crisis, which was triggered by a massive quake and tsunami.

"The government of Japan will make its utmost efforts, based on scientific evidence, to have the restrictions lifted as early as possible and advance further efforts to increase Japanese exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products," he said.

Of the 54 countries and regions that introduced import curbs on Japanese food products following the nuclear disaster, 15 including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the European Union maintain restrictions. The three Asian economies were among Japan's top five food export destinations in 2020.

Motegi pointed out that farm exports from Fukushima Prefecture recovered to pre-disaster levels in 2017 and have continued to hit record highs for three straight years since then.

In the statement, the minister also acknowledged the support and "countless messages of encouragement" that were sent to Japan from around the world following the disaster, noting cash donations, the dispatch of personnel to search for missing people and support for those who were in need.

In the aftermath of the calamity, Japan received cash donations totaling more than ¥17.5 billion as well as relief and other goods from 128 countries, regions and organizations, according to the Foreign Ministry.

A total of 24 states, as well as five international organizations, sent teams to help with rescue, recovery and medical support, it said.

"The Japanese people will never forget the generosity shown and the support kindly provided by the people of the world in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake," Motegi said.

As international cooperation through disaster prevention is becoming more critical due to the frequency of natural disasters, "Japan remains committed to working strenuously for the peace and security of people all over the world," he said.

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