Published Date: 2021-12-23
It’s been more than ten years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but Taiwan still maintains a ban on imports of food from five Japanese prefectures that were particularly affected.
The issue of whether to lift that ban has come back into the spotlight following a recent referendum on imported pork. It’s been a topic of discussion in the legislature, too, where lawmakers from both major political parties heard arguments from both Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung and Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua.
Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung went to the legislature with a mission: to tell lawmakers that Taiwan’s policy on Japanese food imports could endanger its bid to join the CPTPP trade bloc.
Japan wants Taiwan to lift its continued ban on food products made in areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Chen said that besides Taiwan, only China continues to ban food imports from these areas. He said that if Taiwan wants entry into the CPTPP, of which Japan is an important member, it will need to bring its trade and food safety policies in line with international standards.
But KMT lawmaker Hsieh Yi-Fong interrupted Chen’s presentation. She said that he strayed off topic by talking about Japanese food products in general instead of focusing on products from the Fukushima area.
The other side of the political aisle didn’t give Chen an easier time, either. DPP lawmakers expressed concerns about the safety of Japanese food products in general. They say that this year alone, there were 145 cases of Japanese food products found to contain more pesticide residue or heavy metals than allowed by Taiwan’s food safety standards.
Meanwhile, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua told the lawmakers that the ban is a topic of importance to Japan, and that it will definitely be discussed in future talks. However, she said there are no discussions underway about whether to lift the ban now.