The issue of whether Taiwan's government should lift the ban on agricultural imports from Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster should be addressed according to international standards, Japanese representative to Taiwan Hiroyasu Izumi said Saturday.
Assuring food safety in Taiwan is the responsibility of the Taiwanese government, Izumi told reporters at a Christmas music concert organized by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), which has represented Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries since 1972.
The Japanese government maintains that food safety issues should be handled in accordance with international standards, he added.
Taiwan has banned imports of food products from five prefectures in Japan -- Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tochigi -- following a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Despite repeated protestations from the Japanese government, the restrictions have remained in place. A November 2018 referendum saw Taiwan's electorate vote overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the ban.
The issue has been brought up again recently after Taiwan applied to join the Tokyo-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in September.
At the Legislature on Thursday, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (???) said the issue of lifting the ban on Japanese food imports would be raised once Taiwan started negotiations with Japan about its accession to the trade pact.
Speaking with reporters Saturday, however, the Japanese representative said there were "no links" between the Japanese food imports from the five prefectures and the CPTPP.
Izumi also said that the JTEA would celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and that he believed Japan and Taiwan would continue to be "the best island neighbors" in the next 50 years.
Although physical exchanges between Japan and Taiwan have become difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the friendship between the two has become warmer, Izumi said.
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???), who was also at the event, echoed the representative's view, saying the relationship between Taiwan and Japan would remain robust in the following decades to come.
The ties between Taiwan and Japan are a very good "model," Wu said, pointing out that the two countries had worked closely in the areas of humanitarian assistance and COVID-19 response.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel