Food safety to be discussed when Japanese group visits nation at end of month
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked a close aide to discuss the safety of Japanese food with Taiwan when he visits the island at the end of the month, a Japanese daily reported on Saturday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said Abe met with his special adviser Koichi Hagiuda on Friday and asked him to brief Taiwan on the safety of Japanese food.
Abe said Taiwan stepped up its restrictions on food imported from Japan because of a misunderstanding, and he hoped the strict rules would not affect good bilateral relations between the two sides.
Hagiuda’s delegation, which will also include Abe’s brother Nobuo Kishi, a member of the House of Councillors in the Japanese Diet, is expected to depart for Taiwan on April 29.
The delegation is scheduled meet President Ma Ying-jeou.
Sources familiar with TaiwanJapan affairs said Kishi’s trip to
to Taiwan to call on the Legislature and political figures had been planned well in advance, but with Taiwan stepping up restrictions on Japanese food imports, the issue has been added to the delegation’s agenda.
After the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake on March 11, 2011, Taiwan banned foods from the nuclear-affected Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gumma, and Chiba.
The restrictions were tightened earlier this year after food items from the Japanese prefectures were discovered to have made their way into Taiwanese supermarkets with the help of false labels.
At the behest of the Legislature, the Ministry of Health and Welfare responded by requiring all imported Japanese food products to provide certificates of origin to enter Taiwan.
In addition, certain teas, baby foods, dairy products and marine products from some areas will have to present radiation inspection certificates. The new measure takes effect on May 15.
The Abe administration believes Taiwan’s regulations are too strict and sent a bureau chief from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to Taiwan last week to discuss the issue.
An official with the Japanese ministry said it believes Taiwan is not abiding by international norms and is thinking of taking the case to the World Trade Organization.