Tai­wan-Ja­pan work­ing group to dis­cuss Ja­pan food im­ports

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

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

Trade Con­fer­ence

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.

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