KMT 'resolutely' opposed to lifting of Japanese food ban

01/26/2022 07:57 PM
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KMT Chairman Eric Chu. CNA photo Jan. 26, 2022
KMT Chairman Eric Chu. CNA photo Jan. 26, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) The Kuomintang (KMT) on Wednesday expressed its "resolute opposition" to lifting Taiwan's ban on food imports from Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in the absence of what it called science-backed measures to guarantee the safety of such imported products.

KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said the party has always considered food safety to be a top priority, and cares about public health. He blasted the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for planning to accept the import of such foods without first introducing supporting measures backed by science.

In the circumstances, the KMT, the largest opposition political party in Taiwan, will definitely "resolutely stand on the side of the people," Chu said at a meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee.

Chu made the pledge after a local news report indicated that the DPP government plans to announce the lifting of the decade old ban on food products from prefectures close to the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on Thursday at the earliest.

Taiwan banned imports of food products from five prefectures -- Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tochigi -- following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

2018 referendum on Japan food imports

Taiwan's restrictions have remained in place despite repeated protests from the Japanese government. In a referendum initiated by then KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-pin (郝龍斌) in November 2018, Taiwan's electorate voted to maintain the ban by a 78-22 percent margin.

The Japanese government has long maintained that food produced in areas near Fukushima is safe to consume, saying all such foodstuffs sold on the market have cleared the CODEX-based international standard for radionuclides in foods.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the DPP government has also vowed that they will not allow contaminated food with excessive levels of radiation to enter Taiwan.

Asked about the United Daily News (UDN) report on Wednesday, Ling Tao (凌濤), head of the KMT's Culture and Communication Committee, stressed that the party "is absolutely opposed" to the import of "nuclear foods" from the Fukushima area.

He slammed the DPP government for planning to force through the lifting of the ban without communicating with the public about the issue and failing to put forward supporting measures for the import of such foods.

The KMT will do its utmost to uphold food safety, he said, without elaborating on what strategies the party will adopt.

Premier's statement

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said after being asked about the UDN report on Wednesday that Taiwan and China are the only two countries in the world that still ban the import of Fukushima food products.

Without giving an affirmative answer to the report, Su said only that "the government will take the initiative in facing problems and reviewing (its measures)" so as to protect public health based on scientific evidence and international standards.

However, Su appeared to have misspoken as South Korea also prohibits the import of seafood from the Fukushima area.

While local media has reported a link between lifting the ban and Taiwan's bid to join the Tokyo-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Alexander Huang (黃介正), head of the KMT's Department of International Affairs, said the KMT does not find such arguments persuasive because the country has to go through a series of bilateral negotiations to secure accession.

For Taiwan to join the CPTPP, it is necessary to conduct bilateral talks with each of the existing 11 state-members of the trade bloc, and different countries will have different requirements of Taiwan, Huang said, implying that lifting the ban does not guarantee Taiwan's accession to the CPTPP, one of the world's largest free-trade areas by GDP.

(By Liu Kuan-ting, Lai Yu-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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