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China eases ban on Fukushima foodpracti

November 29, 2018



China eases Japan food import ban imposed after nuclear disaster





TOKYO (Kyodo) -- China has relaxed its ban on Japanese food imports introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, allowing rice produced in Niigata Prefecture to be shipped to the country, the Japanese farm ministry said Thursday.

Imports of rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, north of Tokyo, resumed Wednesday for the first time in seven years at a time when the United States and China remain at odds over trade issues, imposing tariff measures on each other's products.


"We want to welcome the move," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on Thursday. "We will continue to encourage (China) to lift or relax the import ban based on scientific evidence," the top government spokesman said.


The relaxation of the ban is still very limited, however, as China still maintains a ban on the import of foods and feedstuff produced in 10 of Japan's 47 prefectures except Niigata-produced and polished rice, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


Other countries, including South Korea and Singapore, restrict food imports due to radiation concerns following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.


Taiwan has also decided to keep its ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures intact as a majority of Taiwanese voted in favor of maintaining the regulation in a referendum on Saturday.


Food product exports from Japan to China were about 100.7 billion yen ($885 million) last year, the third largest after Hong Kong and the United States.



China lifts ban on Niigata rice in place since nuclear disaster






China on Nov. 28 lifted its import ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture but maintained restrictions imposed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on other food from 10 prefectures.


During their summit in October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift the import restrictions on Japanese agricultural and other products.


China apparently examined the distances and wind directions from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and decided to remove the ban on Niigata rice.


Japanese private companies have long hoped to resume rice exports to China, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world market for the staple food.


The Japanese government plans to ask the Chinese government to further ease restrictions on other food products.

The Abe administration has been promoting overseas sales of Japanese food products. It has set a goal of 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) as the annual export amount of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, as well as processed food.

But after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 54 countries and regions imposed restrictions on food imports from Japan.

Although the restrictions have been gradually eased, eight countries and regions--China, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau--still ban imports of certain products from certain areas of Japan, according to the agricultural ministry.

(This article was compiled from reports by Ayumi Shintaku and Takashi Funakoshi in Beijing and Tetsushi Yamamura in Tokyo.)






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