Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) Taiwan might review its ban on food imports from five prefectures in Japan, in line with global practices, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Monday.
"It's time to reassess Taiwan's policy on Japanese food imports and the government might follow the United States and adopt risk-based restrictions instead of the current ban that is based on regions," Chen said at a news conference.
Food imports from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba have been suspended in Taiwan since 2011 following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster earlier that same year.
Chen said the Taiwan government will not allow the entry of radiation-tainted food but should ease the rules on non-contaminated products, in line with international trade practices.
The government must differentiate between "Japanese foods" and "radiation-tainted foods," he said. If food products from the five Japanese prefectures are allowed into Taiwan, Chen said, his ministry will do everything it can to ensure that they are safe. "But there is no timetable for that to happen," he added.
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung (何啟功) also expressed his views on the matter, saying that "Taiwan cannot distance itself from the issue."
Furthermore, "it is not good to maintain the ban for so many years" at a time when countries around the world are gradually relaxing their restrictions on Japanese food products, Ho said.
"Some banned food products from the five Japanese prefectures are safe," he said.
There is a chance the food at Chiba-based Narita airport contains ingredients from the prefecture, Ho said.