KMT divided over Japanese food import issue

A statement by the KMT that it would not oppose food imports from five Japanese prefectures took the party caucus by surprise, Alex Fai said.

  • By Lin Liang-sheng and Kayleigh Madjar / Personal Reporter, with a personal editor

Food imports from Fukushima and four other Japanese prefectures that were banned following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster would finally be allowed, former Legislative Assembly Speaker Wang Jin said yesterday -pyng (王金平).

The question now is how to keep them safe, he added.

Speaking to reporters at the opening ceremony of the fourth annual Congress Youth Experience Camp hosted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), KMT member Wang said the issue will be resolved “sooner or later. “.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

If agricultural imports that were banned after the disaster resume, Japan must first carry out rigorous inspections, followed by another round after they arrive in Taiwan, he said.

Proper equipment and training are needed to detect traces of radioactive contamination, he said, urging the government to prepare before imports resume.

Separately, KMT caucus whip Alex Fai (費鴻泰) vowed that the caucus would take a stand against any import of “nuclear food”.

“Health cannot be traded,” he said, adding that the KMT’s stance is as strong as it was in 2018, when a public referendum to keep the ban was passed by 78% of the vote against 22%.

As for a party statement released on Friday saying the KMT “would not oppose food imports” from prefectures as long as Japan can guarantee their safety, Fai said he took the caucus by surprise.

Upon seeing the news, the caucus immediately delivered a message to KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), who then instructed the party’s culture and communications committee to draft a statement clarifying its position.

KMT lawmaker and former president Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told reporters the party’s stance on food safety has never changed, whether it’s pork with traces of ractopamine or radioactive contamination.

As the ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has a duty to explain how food safety is protected, not just change its language or issue an executive order to force clearance of unsafe food, said Chiang.

“Of course we hope that trade with other countries can be mutually beneficial,” but the government should ensure food safety, unlike what it did with “ractopamine pork,” when it promised clear labeling, but failed to deliver, he said.

The DPP could potentially use its legislative majority to force open borders, but failure to block problematic foods could spell the start of the next disaster, he said.

The government needs to tell the public how it decides on food safety standards, its discussions with Tokyo, whether Japan would bear any responsibility and who would be held accountable if something goes wrong, he said.

As the Executive Yuan and the DPP have already started discussing the issue, the KMT, as an opposition party, should quickly consolidate its position to perform its supervisory duties well, Chiang added.

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