Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) The question of whether the Taiwanese government should lift the ban on imports of agricultural products from Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster must be addressed in accordance with international standards, said on Saturday the Japanese representative in Taiwan Hiroyasu Izumi.
Ensuring food security in Taiwan is the responsibility of the Taiwanese government, Izumi told reporters at a Christmas music concert hosted by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), which represented Japan’s interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries. since 1972.
The Japanese government maintains that food safety issues must be addressed in accordance with international standards, he added.
Taiwan banned food imports from five prefectures in Japan – Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi – following the collapse of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, triggered by an earthquake and a massive tsunami.
Despite repeated protests from the Japanese government, the restrictions remained in place. A November 2018 referendum saw the Taiwanese electorate vote overwhelmingly to maintain the ban.
The issue was raised again recently after Taiwan applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) led by Tokyo in September.
In the Legislature on Thursday, Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua (王 子 花) said the issue of lifting the ban on Japanese food imports would be raised once Taiwan began negotiations with Japan on its adherence to the commercial pact.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, however, the Japanese representative said there was “no connection” between imports of Japanese food from the five prefectures and the CPTPP.
Izumi also said that JTEA will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and that he believes Japan and Taiwan will continue to be “the best island neighbors” for the next 50 years.
Although physical exchanges between Japan and Taiwan have become difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the friendship between the two has grown warmer, Izumi said.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳 釗 燮), who was also present at the event, echoed the representative’s point of view, saying Taiwan-Japan relations will remain strong for decades to come.
Taiwan-Japan relations are a very good “model,” Wu said, noting that the two countries have worked closely together in the areas of humanitarian aid and COVID-19 response.