Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Thirteen cities and counties governed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) issued a joint statement on Wednesday to clarify their position on the potential lifting of restrictions on food imports from radiation-affected areas of Japan.
The statement said that both the central government and local governments controlled by the DPP have an uncompromising commitment to safeguard the health of the general public.
The signatories to the statement called for the introduction of stricter food safety standards than those in the European Union and the United States.
On the government's plan to allow food imports from four radiation-affected prefectures the signatories insisted on four principles.
The first is that the ban on imports of food products from Fukushima remains in place.
Second, the ban on tea, water, baby formula and aquatic products from four prefectures – Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi – will not be lifted.
Third, no food products will be imported from these four prefectures without certificates of origin and radiation inspection documentation provided by the relevant authorities.
Fourth, the import ban will remain on food products not on sale in Japan and the United States.
At a regular DPP Central Standing Committee meeting later in the day, the heads of the 13 cities and counties said the position laid out in the joint statement is in line with that of the central government.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that food safety is the responsibility of the government and any changes in import controls on food products should only be introduced after full disclosure of relevant information and communication with the public.
When asked if local government heads had been mobilized to endorse government policy, Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) dismissed the suggestion, saying that local officials are more interested in the health and safety of their own citizens.
Taiwan has banned imports of food products from five prefectures in Japan that were contaminated with radiation following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Taiwan's government is now considering lifting the ban on food imports from the five prefectures, though not Fukushima, but has encountered heavy opposition.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May, different Japanese organizations have asked Taiwan to lift the ban on food products, according to domestic news reports.
(By Tai Ya-chen, Lu Hsin-hu and Lilian Wu)enditem/AW