Important agriculture issues will be brought to the negotiating table in annual trade and economic talks between Taiwan and Japan that will be held in Taipei on Nov. 29-30, according to a Taiwanese official.
This will mark a resumption of talks on the issue since discussions were suspended in the previous Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economic Meeting last year due to Japan's dissatisfaction with Taiwan's unbendable refusal to ease a ban on food imports from radiation-affected areas of Japan.
For this year's meeting, Japan seems to have changed its mind now that Taiwan has a new president -- Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the Democratic Progressive Party, who took office on May 20.
The Japan side has expressed willingness to take the agriculture issue back to the negotiating table, Taiwan's official who will attend the 2016 trade talks said on Friday.
The official declined to be named because he or she was not authorized to speak on the matter with the press.
In the upcoming trade talks, the official revealed that Taiwan will seek for Japan to open its market to five Taiwan-grown fruits -- Indian jujube, Ponkan (a kind of mandarin orange), guava, white-meat dragon fruit and mangoes, not including Irwin Mango, which can already be exported to Japan.
However, Japanese officials appeared not very active when Taiwan voiced its wish to export these fruits to Japan during working meetings for the upcoming trade talks over the past months, the official said, attributing the passive attitude to Taiwan's ban on food imports from radiation-affected areas of Japan and rising public opposition to such imports.
This year "the negotiation atmosphere is unusual. The degree of challenge is quite high," the official said.
Chiou I-jen (???), president of Taiwan's Association of East Asian Relations (AEAR) and his Japanese counterpart Ohashi Mitsuo, chairman of the Japan Interchange Association (JIA), will lead the delegations of their respective countries to the two-day trade and economic meeting, the 41st of its kind, in Taipei.
The AERA and JIA are quasi-official organizations set up to handle bilateral affairs in the absence of official ties.
During the meeting, there will be several working panels formed for separate discussions on different topics, including general policies, technical exchanges in the agricultural, fishery and medical areas, and protection of intellectual property rights, according to the official.
The reason the agriculture issue was shelved in the 2015 Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economic Meeting last November was said to be mainly because Japan was upset with Taiwan's reluctance to lift its food ban, despite what Japan said were effective measures taken to resolve a high-profile label forgery scandal that erupted in March that year.
Last March, inspectors of Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration discovered that several traders covered the Japanese label of origin on packages of banned Japanese food products with the Chinese labels reading different production origins before importing them into Taiwan.
The scandal prompted Taipei to tighten safety checks at customs and held back an intention to ease its ban on imported food products from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, which were contaminated with radiation in the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Taiwan's new government is now considering lifting the ban on food imports from all of those areas, except Fukushima, but has encountered heavy opposition, mainly over food safety concerns.
The Taiwan-Japan Trade and Economic Meeting has been the only official platform for Taiwanese and Japanese officials to discuss issues of mutual concern since diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 1972.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel