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Taiwan to protect public health while lifting ban on Japanese food imports


The Executive Yuan held a press conference Tuesday on Japanese food import restrictions. Executive Yuan Spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said most nations around the world have already lifted bans on Japanese food imports, and Taiwan must also return to scientific evidence and keep up with the times. For these reasons, the government will adjust the restrictions on Japanese food imports that have been in place for 11 years, but will still protect the health of the nation by adopting safety measures that are stricter than international standards, using three main principles and three sets of complementary measures.

Following the massive earthquake and ensuing nuclear disaster that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, many nations took emergency measures to suspend imports of foods originating from Fukushima Prefecture and its neighboring areas. Taiwan on March 25 of that year also decided to suspend imports of all foods from Fukushima and four nearby prefectures, the spokesperson said.

Over the past 11 years, Japan has progressively reduced food risks by adopting domestic restrictions that are tougher than those used in the international community. World nations have therefore gradually eased their own restrictions or ended bans on imports of Japanese food. In particular, more than 40 countries around the world have completely lifted restrictions, including all 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In 2021, the U.S., Singapore and Israel joined the list of countries announcing complete lifting of bans. The EU, meanwhile, significantly eased restrictions on Japanese food while only requiring radiation inspection certifications on a small number of higher-risk items.

Spokesperson Lo said that, globally, only Taiwan and China still maintain a ban on all imports of food products from Fukushima and surrounding regions. Even Hong Kong and Macau have already eased restrictions. As a government that stands for public food safety based on scientific evidence, as well as a country oriented towards foreign trade, we cannot disregard international standards or scientific evidence if we want to join international trade bodies and gain entry to the high-standard CPTPP.

The spokesperson emphasized that the government has decided to make reasonable adjustments to the 11-year ban on Japanese food products in a way that returns to principles of scientific evidence and puts forth safety regulations even stricter than international standards to safeguard the people's health. In the future, Taiwan will align with global food safety practices by following the three principles of returning to scientific inspection, adopting stricter regulation than international standards and ensuring food safety. We will also adopt the three complementary measures of shifting import bans from specific regions to specific products, requiring proof of radiation testing and proof of origin for at-risk products, and conducting batch-by-batch border inspection of food products from Fukushima and the four neighboring prefectures.

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