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Promoting Fukushima food in Hong Kong

February 5, 2019



VOX POPULI: Hong Kongers knock back Fukushima sake, despite food ban




About five years ago, I saw a poster at a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong that declared in large print, “Absolutely no rice or any other food from Fukushima, Japan, used here.”

The overly harsh tone made me sigh.


When I visited Hong Kong recently for the first time in many years, I was surprised by the popularity of sake from Fukushima Prefecture. Locals seemed to be thoroughly enjoying “Sharaku,” “Toroman” and other noted brands from the Aizu area in western Fukushima Prefecture.


People’s perceptions must be changing.


According to a Fukushima prefectural government official, 54 countries and regions around the world imposed restrictions on imports from the prefecture in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.


The number is down to 24 today, of which Hong Kong is still one.


Last summer, the government of Hong Kong lifted restrictions on imports from Gunma, Ibaraki and two other prefectures around Fukushima. The last remaining restrictions are on vegetables, fruits and dairy products from Fukushima.


Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori visited Hong Kong in late January.


Hong Kong was Fukushima’s top customer before the 2011 disaster. Eighty percent of the prefecture’s agricultural exports went there.


Uchibori strongly asserted the safety of Fukushima’s produce, but failed to obtain a commitment from the Hong Kong government to resume imports.


“(Hong Kong’s) perceptions about Fukushima (are unchanged), and anxieties, worries and concerns remain deep-rooted,” the governor noted.


He must have sensed that acutely from interacting with locals.


When I was stationed in Hong Kong in the past, even for a short while, I was aware of the high trust locals placed in Japanese food.


“It's expensive, but safe,” I was told repeatedly.


Perhaps the lingering negative publicity surrounding Fukushima produce is the flip side of the absolute trust people used to have for many years.


Whether at home or abroad, it is hard to focus on a goal when fighting negative publicity. Still, I felt encouraged by how much Hong Kong citizens seemed to be enjoying Fukushima’s sake.


This time, I didn't see a single poster proclaiming “absolutely no (Fukushima food).”

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 5



January 26, 2019



Governor promotes Fukushima food in Hong Kong amid post-disaster import restrictions





HONG KONG - Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, on a visit to Hong Kong which kicked off Thursday, has worked to promote the safety of food from his prefecture, home to the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.


Hong Kong introduced restrictions on food imports from the prefecture after a triple meltdown occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, which was inundated by tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.


Uchibori is the first Fukushima governor to visit Hong Kong after the disasters for the promotion of local food products.


During his stay, Uchibori met with officials of an industry association related to Japanese food. He also paid a courtesy call on a senior Hong Kong government official in charge of import regulations.


The official said that Hong Kong will consider whether to relax the restrictions on Fukushima food while closely watching the pace of recovery in food imports from four nearby prefectures —Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba — according to Uchibori. Hong Kong eased its restrictions on food from the four prefectures last year.


At a seminar for Hong Kong journalists on Friday, Uchibori stressed that he will redouble efforts to ease concerns over Fukushima food as much as possible, noting that more than 80 percent of all exports of Fukushima-made agricultural, forestry and fishery products had been shipped to Hong Kong before the disasters.








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