Taiwan-Japan working group to discuss Japan food imports
A Taiwan-Japan working group meeting is expected to take place later this month to discuss issues related to Taiwan’s ongoing policy of tightening restrictions on Japanese food product imports, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
Chou Shyue-yow ( ), deputy director-general of MOFA’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the upcoming meeting is aimed at peacefully resolving issues after Japanese food products from five nuclear-affected Japanese prefectures — Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba — were discovered in Taiwan earlier this year.
The top priority for the meeting set to take place in Taipei will be in clarifying why these products were mislabeled and imported into Taiwan in the first place, Chou said.
“The meeting will attempt to find a solution to make sure such incidents will not happen again,” he noted.
A previous meeting was held in Tokyo late last month on the same issue, during which a consensus was reached to look into the cause of the food import row, he noted.
Chou would not comment if the upcoming meeting could lead to a lifting of the ongoing policy in Taiwan by which all imported Japanese food products must provide more detailed certificates of origin to enter the nation’s markets.
He only said that the meeting may touch the issue of whether to lift the latest restrictions if delegations of both sides make significant progress on the issue.
But he also noted that the ongoing discussion is quite positive that the issue can be resolved.
Taiwan has imposed a ban on the import of food produced in the five nuclear-affected prefectures of Japan following the nuclear disaster of March 2011.
Local governments 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.
The decision that requires all Japanese food products show their specific place of origin rather than simply the country of origin, and certain products must be accompanied by a radiation inspection certificate. This policy has drawn strong criticism from the government of Japan.
Japanese officials have threatened to challenge Taiwan’s decision to tighten regulations on imported Japanese foodstuffs at the WTO.
Taiwan-Japan Economic and
Meanwhile, Chou yesterday also announced that the midterm review meeting of the 39th Taiwan-Japan Economic and Trade Conference will be held in Taipei on June 18.
Both sides are expected to conduct a comprehensive review of all issues concerning exchanges between Taiwan and Japan in recent years.
The Japanese food safety issue is among the topics, as well as issues regarding further economic cooperation, consumer protection intellectual property issues, he noted.
The annual conference between Taipei and Tokyo has been held since 1974.