Plans to Import Japan's Nuclear Food with a Name Change

Summary Report by Taiwan Weekly


The lifting of the ban on importing nuclear food from Fukushima is approaching! On January 14, Legislator Ker Chien-ming, who also serves as the legislative whip of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), invited DPP legislators and government officials to discuss the lifting of the ban on food in the five Japanese prefectures around Fukushima. It is reported that some participants at the meeting suggested that nuclear-contaminated food should be called “Fukushima food” to avoid giving the public a bad impression.


In order to avoid the controversy over the lifting of the nuclear food ban which is considered very likely to affect the local elections at the end of this year, there has been a roar of "a soon and quick fight" proposal among the DPP members. On January 14, Legislator Ker invited some party members and legislators to discuss nuclear food issues with officials such as Spokesman Luo Bing-cheng of the Executive Yuan and Minister Chen Chi-chung of the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan. During the meeting, the administration expressed that it has started to communicate with various non-governmental organizations, and will make the strictest inspection over Fukushima food with scientific standards.


After the meeting, Legislator Ker pointed out that the meeting on January 14th was mainly to echo the “Taiwan-Japan Economic and Trade Forum” opened on January 11, which has touched on the issue of food imports from Fukushima. In addition, Taiwan is now applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Currently, only Taiwan and the Mainland China have completely banned food from Fukushima. The DPP caucus of the Legislative Yuan believes that this issue cannot be avoided.


It is indicated that the DPP intends to make a quick fix. It may follow the formula of opening up the import of pork with ractopamine additive residual, as to set up the standard of allowable amount of radiation residues through an announcement of an executive order. The announcement, as an advance notice, will take effect after seven days, but no timetable has been set.


On January 14, Spokesman Luo relented for the first time to confirm that the government was discussing lifting the ban. However, he reiterated that the administration will refer to international standards and scientific tests to safeguard the health of the people, and Taiwan will not import "nuclear food".


After the failure of the referendum proposing the ban of imported pork containing the additive ractopamine, the issue of lifting the ban on Fukushima food has attracted much attention. In addition to the Japanese side expressing its concern at the "Taiwan-Japan Economic and Trade Forum" on January 11, President Tsai Ing-wen also reiterated at the DPP’s central standing committee meeting on January 12 that the administration will face the issue of Japanese food imports with international standards, and Taiwan should further participate in international economic and trade systems such as the CPTPP.


In response to the Tsai administration's plan to open up food imports from Japan's nuclear disaster areas which has raised public concern over food safety, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) initially responded that as long as Japan could guarantee the safety of imported food to Taiwan, it would not oppose the import of Japanese food. Yet such softening of its stance made the blue camp an uproar of blame. The KMT then issued a statement on the evening of January 15, emphasizing that if the government wants to open up nuclear food, it must adhere to scientific food safety inspections and the guarantee of Taiwan’s joining the CPTPP.


Deputy Director Alfred Lin of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee indicated that the party will stand with nearly 7.79 million Taiwanese people who voted in the 2018 Anti-Nuclear Food Referendum, and will definitely use the strictest standards to ensure food safety for the people.


Mr. Lin further expressed that currently the “importing Japan's nuclear food” issue has no guarantee to provide scientific food safety with certificates of origin and official radiation documents, and there is no guarantee that it will ensure Taiwan’s joining the CPTPP. According to Lin, the KMT will definitely stand with the people and refuse to open imports of any foreign foods that may be harmful to the general public’s health. Please be advised that DPP no longer play the trick of changing the name of “nuclear food” to “Fukushima food” to fool the Taiwanese people.


Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan of the Taiwan People’s Party solemnly appealed to the ruling party and the Executive Yuan not to repeat the mistakes of opening up the import of ractopamine pork, as to use a “sudden raid” style with a legislative majority to arbitrarily pass controversial laws. The issue of opening nuclear foods from Fukushima must abide by the food management regulations and scientific evidence, and must build up a consensus to avoid splitting the society. It is hoped that the ruling party will remember the lessons of previous conflicts of the ractopamine pork issue.


In facing the criticism of renaming from "nuclear food" to "Fukushima food" and playing word games, Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh of the DPP stated that maintaining international standards for safety and health is the most important thing. The United States and the European Union have both opened up, while only the Mainland China and Taiwan are still completely keeping the food ban. There is no need to continue banning the import of food from prefectures around Fukushima because of prejudice or lack of understanding. He will continue to require the administration to safeguard food safety so that Taiwan may do the same as other democratic countries in the world to do fair trade with Japan, in order to join the CPTPP and other economic and trade organizations in the future.


Mayor Ko Wen-je of Taipei stated that the correct term should be "food from the Fukushima area", and the issue of importing foods from Fukushima to Taiwan, which has been raised by Japanese ranking officials when he visited Japan in 2019, “is an issue inevitable, we must face."


The earthquake on March 11, 2011 triggered a tsunami, and the tsunami caused the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Japanese agricultural products and food in Fukushima area were contaminated by the aftermath of nuclear disaster, and since then there were 55 countries and regions have banned imports from Fukushima. After a decade-long ban, the United States lifted import restrictions on food products from the prefectures around Fukushima in September last year. So far, only China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan have not opened up. South Korea bans only high-risk items such as aquatic products and mushrooms.



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