Curbs on Japan imports won’t affect ties: MOFA
The government’s latest policy of tightening Japanese food product imports will not affect ties between the R.O.C. and Japan, a government minister claimed yesterday.
Speaking during a legislative interpellation session yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Kao ( ) said that Taiwan and Japan have maintained friendly ties for decades.
But he admitted that Taiwan’s soon-to-be implemented policy that will further tighten Japanese food import regulations does cause concern in Taiwan.
However, Kao said the problem could be solved with sound communications between both sides. He opined that the incident will not impact mutual ties in the longer run.
Kao made the remarks when asked to comment on an upcoming visit by a Japanese delegation that is scheduled to meet with Taiwanese authorities later this week. The new food import regulations are top of the agenda.
Taiwan has imposed a ban on the import of food produced in the five nuclear-affected prefectures of Japan — Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba — following the nuclear disaster of March 2011.
Local governments recently decided to tighten restrictions when products from those prefectures were discovered on shelves in Taiwan earlier this year.
At the behest of the Legislature, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) responded by requiring all imported Japanese food products to provide more detailed certificates of origin to enter Taiwan, effective from May 15.
The decision that will require all Japanese food products to show their specific place of origin rather than simply the country of origin, and have some products be accompanied by a radiation inspection certificate, has drawn strong displeasure from Japanese government.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked his special adviser Koichi Hagiuda to brief Taiwan on the safety of Japanese food when he visits the island later this week, according to a source familiar with TaiwanJapanese affairs.
Hagiuda’s delegation, which will also include Abe’s brother Nobuo Kishi, is expected to arrive in Taiwan tomorrow, according to a Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun report last Saturday.
The delegation is scheduled to meet President Ma Ying-jeou, according to the report. The Presidential Office, however, made no comment on the reported schedule.
Asked by lawmakers to comment on the scheduled meeting, Kao yesterday confirmed that President Ma will receive the delegation.
Kao said he believes the president will clearly explain the Taiwan government’s stance on the issue and will stress that the tightening of restrictions is only being done for safety reasons because Taiwanese people continue to have misgivings about the safety of Japanese food.
Kao said he believes the incident will not have a negative impact on Taiwan-Japan relations.
Meanwhile, a MHW official yesterday said Taiwan currently has no intention of postponing the implementation of the policy simply because Japan has concerns.