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Japan’s unilateral decision of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into ocean not responsible: Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Aug 09, 2022

Japan’s dumping of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean will have influence on the ocean environment, security of food and people’s health, and Japan made such unilateral decision without having full negotiation with neighboring countries or international organizations, which is irresponsible and immoral, Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs, said Monday at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, expressing strong concerns over the related issues.

Japan’s unilateral decision to dump Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is made purely out of concerns for its own economic cost, and it has neither resorted to all possible ways to handle it, nor had full negotiations with neighboring countries. Such selfish move is to transfer the risk to the international community. People in Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and Pacific island countries all expressed their concerns, Li said.

Japanese regulators have approved the plan of dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, which has caused safety concerns in the international community and neighboring countries.

Li pointed out that the international community has paid great attention on issues of the legitimacy of Japan’s plan of dumping the water, the credibility over the data, efficiency of the decontamination equipment, and the influence on the environment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has not reached a final conclusion on the assessment on Japan’s plan, but has given Japan many improvement suggestions. But regrettably, Japan has purposely neglected it and kept pushing its plans. Such moves are not what a responsible country should take, Li said.

Dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is not Japan’s own business and Japan should respond to the global concerns and go back to the track of communicating with parties of shared concerns. And it should stop forcibly pushing the dumping plan, Li said.

Japan should make sure handling the water in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner, and take alternative plans and accept supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Li, noting that this is the touchstone to test whether Japan can effectively fulfill its responsibility.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202208/1272548.shtml

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Facility construction begins for Japan’s Fukushima nuclear wastewater release amid opposition

File photo taken on Oct. 12, 2017, shows huge tanks that store contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — The construction of facilities to release radioactive wastewater into the sea from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan began Thursday despite opposition from the local community and neighboring countries.

Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO).

On Tuesday, TEPCO has gained approval from Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, which host the crisis-hit power plant, to start the construction, but serious concerns remain.

Local residents and the fishing community concerned about the impact on their fish catches and livelihoods and remain opposed to the plan, which calls for a gradual release of tons of treated water into the Pacific Ocean to begin next spring.

People rally to protest against the Japanese government’s decision to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea, in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on April 13, 2021.

China has expressed its firm opposition to the plan as China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said previously that it is extremely irresponsible for Japan to ignore the concerns and strong opposition from all parties.

“If Japan insists on putting its own interests above the public interest of the international community and insists on taking the dangerous step, it will surely pay the price for its irresponsible behavior and leave a stain in history,” Wang said.

The South Korean government has stated that it would take “best responsive measures internally and externally” under the principle that people’s health and security are of utmost importance.

A massive tsunami, triggered by an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude off Japan’s northeastern coast, struck TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011. TEPCO said that it is running out of storage tanks to hold water used to cool the melted-down cores.

The Japanese government decided in April 2021 that the contaminated water had to be released into the sea as the facility is fast running out of space to set up more storage tanks, which already number in the hundreds.

https://english.news.cn/20220805/e5c88eb3134f4786b3070af31f364b48/c.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan, China talks over food import ban not held for over 1 year

But China did not agree to hold panel talks when Japan in November 2021 called for them, in an apparent protest at Japan’s decision in April that year to release treated radioactive water from the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima into the sea.

File photo shows then Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (front R) meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (opposite) in Tokyo in November 2020.

May 15, 2022

Talks between Japan and China over Beijing’s import ban on Japanese food products have not been held for over a year, sources familiar with bilateral relations told Kyodo News recently.

As China has not responded to Japan’s request for resuming the talks amid soured bilateral ties, it is uncertain when the ban will be lifted, with the deadlock possibly to affect discussions on China’s accession to a major Pacific free trade deal, the sources said.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Beijing banned imports of food products from Fukushima and several other prefectures over the risks of radioactive contamination. Japan has been asking China to hold a third meeting of a panel they established to discuss lifting the ban, the sources said.

Foreign ministers of the two countries agreed in November 2020 to set up the panel as Tokyo aimed to expand sales of Japanese food in the Chinese market, and Beijing, which has been at odds with the United States, hoped to improve ties with Japan.

Officials on the panel met in virtual meetings held in December 2020 and February 2021, according to the sources.

But China did not agree to hold panel talks when Japan in November 2021 called for them, in an apparent protest at Japan’s decision in April that year to release treated radioactive water from the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima into the sea.

Bilateral relations further deteriorated as Chinese authorities detained a Japanese diplomat in Beijing temporarily in February this year for allegedly collecting information illegally.

China has banned imports of all food products from Fukushima and eight neighboring prefectures as well as food products except rice from Niigata Prefecture.

In September last year, Beijing applied to join the trade deal formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The trade agreement requires member countries not to unfairly restrict food imports. A Japanese government source said a positive mood for China’s accession to the deal cannot be created in Japan unless the issue of the import ban is resolved.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/05/faca8be23a97-japan-china-talks-over-food-import-ban-not-held-for-over-1-year.html

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Fresh pressure on Japan to reverse Fukushima discharge plan

Gustavo Caruso (front), director and coordinator of the IAEA’s nuclear safety and security department, meets with officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company in Tokyo on Monday.

February 17, 2022

Japan’s proposal to release contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean was condemned again as a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in the country to review the plan.

The Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory that is located some 2,500 kilometers southeast of Japan, said Japan’s plan, officially announced last year, is unacceptable.

“The expectation is that the discharge will not happen until 2023. There is time to overturn this decision,” said Sheila Babauta, a member of the Northern Mariana Islands’ House of Representatives. In December, its government adopted a joint resolution opposing any nation’s decision to dispose of nuclear waste in the Pacific Ocean.

“The effort that went into the creation of the joint resolution exposed research and reports from Greenpeace East Asia highlighting alternatives for the storage of Japan’s nuclear waste, including the only acceptable option, long-term storage and processing using the best technology available,” Babauta added.

Under Japan’s proposal, the Japanese government will gradually dump the still-contaminated water in spring 2023. The water has been used to cool highly radioactive damaged reactor cores as the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation.

The plan has provoked concerns since its first day by local fishers, coastal communities, neighboring countries and Pacific Island countries. Foreign ministries of China and South Korea had vocally expressed opposition and the Pacific Islands Forum, the intergovernmental organization for the region, said that “Japan has not taken sufficient steps to address the potential harm to the Pacific”.

Haruo Ono, a 69-year-old fisherman in Fukushima, told China Daily in December that the discharge will completely ruin the reputation of fishing industry of Fukushima.

“The (Japanese) government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (the plant’s operator) have been hiding information since the 2011 accident,” Ono said, adding that he and his fellow fishermen “can’t trust them for a second”.

On Monday, a team from the IAEA including experts from Argentina, China, France, South Korea, Russia, the United States, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom arrived in Tokyo to review Japan’s plan. They will hold a news conference on Friday after their five-day mission of visiting the site and observing the handling of the contaminated water.

Gustavo Caruso, director-coordinator of the IAEA’s nuclear safety and security department that heads the team, said the review would be carried out in an “objective, credible and science-based manner and help send a message of transparency and confidence to the people in Japan and beyond”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday: “Japan should face up to the international community’s concerns, revoke the erroneous decision on ocean discharge, and stop advancing relevant preparatory work. Unless consensus is reached with stakeholders including neighboring countries and relevant international organizations through full consultation, the Japanese side mustn’t wantonly start the ocean discharge.”

http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202202/17/WS620daf49a310cdd39bc872b7.html

February 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Terrawatch: unearthing snow’s ‘Fukushima layer’

klmDisappearing snow levels on China’s Qilian mountains. 

 

June 30, 2020

Chinese glaciologists have found the freeze-thaw process has concentrated discharge from the disaster

The Fukushima nuclear accident has added a distinctive signature to snow and ice across the northern hemisphere, new research published in Environmental Research Letters shows. Triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan on 11 March 2011, the disaster resulted in a month-long discharge of radioactive material into the atmosphere, ocean and soil.

Feiteng Wang from the Tian Shan glaciological station in Lanzhou, China, and colleagues collected snow samples in 2011 and 2018 from a number of glaciers (spanning a distance of more than 1,200 miles (2,000km) in north-western China. They expected the Fukushima signature to have faded away by 2018, but to their surprise the freeze-thaw processing had made it more concentrated, creating a strong and lasting reference layer in the ice.

Many reference layers from the last 50 years (such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) have melted away in recent warming events, making it difficult to date the upper layers of ice cores. “Reference layers are crucial and a prerequisite for telling the story of the ice core,” says co-author Jing Ming. “The Fukushima layer will be useful for dating ice in one or two decades when the snow transforms to ice,” he adds.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/30/terrawatch-unearthing-snows-fukushima-layer

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Chinese residents concerned over imports of rice produced near Fukushima disaster area

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Consumers buy rice at a supermarket in Taiyuan, North China’s Shanxi Province in March, 2018
January 10, 2019
Chinese residents expressed concerns over the safety of Japanese rice produced nearby the Fukushima disaster area, after the Chinese government lifted an eight-year ban on the import of the rice. 
 
Japan’s National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA) on Tuesday held a ceremony at Yokohama, Japan for exporting the Niigata rice into China for the first time after the Chinese government lifted the ban on imports of rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, the Japan News reported on Wednesday.
 
China’s General Administration of Customs announced in November that it had lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata, one of a number of prefectures neighboring Fukushima, home to the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which went into meltdown and released radioactive material in the aftermath of a tsunami in March 2011.
 
The rice will be sold before the Spring Festival, which falls on February 5, a season which will see booming demand for rice in China.
 
An official of JA said he had confidence that the rice is of high quality and safe, and could satisfy Chinese consumers. Niigata rice will have a trial sale of 500 bags totaling two tons to Shanghai, the Niigata Daily reported on Wednesday.
 
However, Chinese residents don’t seem to have much desire to buy the rice.
 
“I actually don’t care much about the production place when I buy rice, but I still won’t buy the Niigata rice out of food safety concern, and I’m more confident about the quality of the rice produced in the Northeast China,” Chinese student Lei Yue majoring in Japanese told Global Times on Thursday.
 
Varieties of Japanese rice can be seen now being sold on Taobao,  many of which are priced higher than those produced in China. 
 
A Taobao shop is selling Japanese rice for 145 yuan ($21.4) per two kilograms, almost twice the price of domestic rice. 
 
The rice is produced in Yishigawa, Japan, 400 kilometers away from Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, implying that the rice is safe. The staff added it is popular due to its good fragrance and taste and has monthly sales of 95 bags.
 
Comparatively, a Taobao shop which sells rice from Northeast China has monthly sale of more than 30,000 bags. 
 
Exports of Niigata rice were permitted after General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China issued announcement in November 2018.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Cloud of suspicion in China over rice from near Japan’s nuclear meltdown zone

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December 2, 2018
Beijing has lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata prefecture, neighbouring the Fukushima disaster area, but consumers will take some convincing to buy it
The Chinese authorities may be ready to lift a ban on importing rice from a Japanese prefecture neighbouring a nuclear disaster site but Chinese consumers might need more convincing.
China’s General Administration of Customs announced on Wednesday that it had lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata, one of a number of prefectures neighbouring Fukushima, home to the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which went into meltdown and released radioactive material in the aftermath of a tsunami in March 2011.
According to the World Health Organisation, radioactive iodine and caesium in concentrations above the Japanese regulatory limits were detected in some food commodities soon after the disaster.
China responded by banning imports of food and livestock feed from 10 prefectures.
More than seven years later, Niigata is the first area to have the ban lifted on its rice. “After evaluation, we permit Niigata rice to be imported,” the customs administration said on its website.
It said the rice was produced in the prefecture and processed in registered factories, and that when imported it should satisfy Chinese laws and regulations on food safety and plant health.
 
But Chinese internet users weren’t so convinced.
“The officials would rather sacrifice Chinese people’s health for diplomacy,” one person said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.
“Whoever wants to buy the rice can buy it,” another wrote. “I only ask for it to be properly marked on the packaging.”
In all, 54 countries and regions imposed temporary import bans on Japanese food from affected areas immediately after the nuclear disaster. Since then, 27 have lifted their restrictions and Fukushima prefecture shipped 210 tonnes of agricultural products abroad last year, mainly to Malaysia and Thailand.
It follows a years-long clean-up effort and a concerted campaign by the Japanese government to promote agricultural products from Fukushima and neighbouring regions, both domestically and internationally.
A page on the Japanese government website, titled “Fukushima Foods: Safe and Delicious”, is dedicated to the clean-up and monitoring efforts and features photos of farmers encouraging tourists to try their rice, vegetables and fruit.
Hopes that the ban would be eased grew as relations between the two countries thawed. An agreement was reached in March to hold talks in Tokyo between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after which Fukushima officials told the South China Morning Post they hoped Beijing would reopen the door to exports of agricultural and fisheries products. Those prospects rose in late October with the first visit to China by a Japanese prime minister in seven years.
There were grass-roots efforts, too. Last week, a group of Chinese reporters led by Xu Jingbo, from the Tokyo-based, Chinese-language Asia News Agency, quietly visited northeast Japan, stopping in disaster-hit areas including Fukushima.
Xu told the South China Morning Post he had organised the trip because he wanted there to be fair coverage of food safety and the Fukushima nuclear clean-up.
“We should look at the Fukushima nuclear leak in a scientific and fair way,” he said.
The group visited the power station and government centres that test radiation residues on agricultural products and seafood. He said that since the accident, the Japanese government had cleaned up debris and contaminated soil, digging 30cm into the earth and transporting the soil to a remote area for treatment.
“The radiation level tested on my body was only 0.03 millisieverts after the visit, about 1/80 of taking a CAT scan in hospital and about the same level as riding on an aeroplane,” Xu said.
But lingering fear and opposition in China and neighbouring regions remains strong. Last week, voters in Taiwan showed overwhelming support for keeping a ban on food imports.
On the Chinese mainland, every movement towards lifting the ban has provoked hostility online.
Xu’s Weibo account was flooded with comments, calling him a “traitor”. Some questioned whether he received money from the Japanese government for such “propaganda”.
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An article published on the WeChat account Buyidao, operated by the state-run Global Times, questioned the Japanese government and media, saying they had covered up the severity of the radiation in Fukushima and dealt with the clean-up irresponsibly.
“Tokyo Electric Power [the owner of the plant] and the Japanese government have not been honest with the Japanese people and the world, the panic runs inside Japan and has permeated to other countries,” it said.
On the rice ban lifted this week, Guo Qiuju, a radiation expert at Peking University’s physics department, said the Chinese government had its own standard and detection methods.
“China has strict levels on radiation levels detected in foods; if it’s detected below a certain level, it can be assumed to be safe,” she said.
But public concerns persist.
A shopper at Alibaba’s Hema Xiansheng supermarket in Shenzhen she said she probably would not buy any products from the affected areas even if the ban was completely lifted. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
“I’m afraid of what might happen to me,” she said.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Abe asks Xi to lift Japan food import ban following nuclear disaster

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, poses with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday.
December 2, 2018
BUENOS AIRES – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift his country’s ban on Japanese food imports introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, a senior government official said Saturday.
Abe’s request came after Japan’s farm ministry said Thursday that Beijing has allowed rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, more than 200 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to be shipped to China.
During their meeting Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Abe, welcoming Beijing’s latest decision, urged Xi to abolish the rest of the import restrictions based on scientific grounds as soon as possible, according to the Japanese official.
Xi responded to Abe by saying that China will take appropriate action in keeping with scientific assessments, the official added.
Aside from Niigata rice, China maintains its ban on all other Japanese foods and feedstuff initially subject to the import restrictions, which include products from 10 of the country’s 47 prefectures, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
Other countries, including South Korea and Singapore, restrict food imports against a backdrop of radiation concerns, while Taiwan has decided to keep its ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures intact as a result of a referendum on Saturday.
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was triggered by the devastating March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster that hit northeastern Japan.
As for the situation in the East China Sea, Abe called on Xi to improve the unstable situation in the contested waters, emphasizing the importance of restarting talks about a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development there.
The Japanese and Chinese leaders also reaffirmed that U.N. sanctions — aimed at preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles — should be fully implemented until Pyongyang achieves denuclearization as promised.
With trade tensions between the United States and China intensifying, Abe told Xi that China should take concrete measures to stem its alleged unfair business practices such as stealing intellectual property and technology from other nations.
The Japanese prime minister expressed hope that Xi will have a “valuable discussion” with U.S. President Donald Trump at their planned meeting on the fringes of the G-20 summit.
In October, Abe arrived in Beijing for the first official visit to China by a Japanese political leader in nearly seven years. Until late last year, Sino-Japanese relations had been at their worst level in decades over a territorial row in the East China Sea.
During his stay in Beijing, Abe held talks with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in which they agreed to accelerate new economic cooperation between Japan and China by changing the dynamics of bilateral relations “from competition to collaboration.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

China lifts ban on Niigata rice in place since nuclear disaster

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November 29, 2018
China on Nov. 28 lifted its import ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture but maintained restrictions imposed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on other food from 10 prefectures.
During their summit in October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift the import restrictions on Japanese agricultural and other products.
China apparently examined the distances and wind directions from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and decided to remove the ban on Niigata rice.
Japanese private companies have long hoped to resume rice exports to China, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world market for the staple food.
The Japanese government plans to ask the Chinese government to further ease restrictions on other food products.
The Abe administration has been promoting overseas sales of Japanese food products. It has set a goal of 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) as the annual export amount of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, as well as processed food.
But after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 54 countries and regions imposed restrictions on food imports from Japan.
Although the restrictions have been gradually eased, eight countries and regions–China, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau–still ban imports of certain products from certain areas of Japan, according to the agricultural ministry.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Abe and Xi expected to discuss food import ban, but chances of progress uncertain

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to visit Beijing this week, with China’s food import ban on Japan likely to be discussed
 
Oct 21, 2018
China’s import ban on Japanese food introduced following the March 2011 nuclear disaster is likely to be discussed between Japanese and Chinese leaders in upcoming summit talks in Beijing this week, though whether any progress can be made on the discussion is uncertain.
China has taken a cautious approach to relaxing the import regulations due to safety concerns among the public.
China has a ban in place on food imports from 10 prefectures: Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Niigata and Nagano. Food products made in other prefectures need to have certificates that confirm they have passed radioactive checks.
China introduced the ban because of concerns over radioactive contamination due to the meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Japan has been asking Beijing to lift the ban at an early date.
In an effort to make this happen, Tokyo has explained the examination process for food and provided data related to their safety.
But China has stood pat over concerns that lifting the ban could create public backlash. Also behind the inaction were tensions over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by Beijing, informed sources said.
Amid warming bilateral ties and an improvement in the public’s perception of Japanese food, Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed in May this year to start working-level talks for a possible easing of the import regulations.
The focus now is on how much progress can be made at the working level before Abe’s three-day visit to China from Thursday, which comes as the two countries mark the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of their peace and friendship treaty, the sources said.
If the ban is relaxed, Japan is expected to make progress toward its goal of attaining ¥1 trillion in annual exports in the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors, the sources said.
The nuclear disaster led a total 54 economies to introduce import restrictions or strengthen radioactive checks on Japanese food products.
Of them, 29 had scrapped their restrictions as of August this year and 17 others conditionally resumed imports. China is among the eight that maintain import bans on food made in some prefectures.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

China opens the door a crack wider to Japanese rice imports

May 15, 2018
Beijing approves more processing facilities but many restrictions remain
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China allows imports of Japanese rice only from approved mills. There is only one such facility now, but Beijing will add two more to the list, potentially expanding Japan’s export market.
TOKYO — The Japanese ramen noodle chain, Ajisen Ramen, operates around 600 restaurants in China. But if you want Japanese rice with your noodles, you must pay about four times the price of a domestic variety. In China, Japanese rice is only for the deep-pocketed.
One reason Japanese rice is so expensive is that China imposes strict controls on imports of the food staple from Japan. Some of these restrictions were introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.
But things may soon start to change. On May 9, the two counties struck a deal to increase the Japanese facilities that Beijing approves to process rice bound for its shores. China is a potentially a huge market for Japanese rice, but currently accounts for only 3% of overall exports. Hong Kong and Singapore, the two largest markets, take about 60% of the total.
Japan’s agriculture ministry sees China as vital to achieving its target of increasing annual exports of rice and related products to 100,000 tons. In 2017, Japan exported 11,800 tons of rice, of which only 298 tons went to China. According to one estimate, China consumes about 20 times more rice than Japan.
While the recent deal between the two countries is a step forward, Chinese restrictions and high costs remain major hurdles for Japanese exporters. Most experts also say Japan’s rice exports will remain vulnerable to any political tensions between the two countries.
To export white rice to China, brown rice must first be milled and fumigated at facilities that China has approved as safe. The new deal will expand the number of approved mills and fumigation facilities.
There is currently only one rice mill in Japan approved by China, operated by the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (Zen-Noh) in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.
The agreement adds two more mills. One is located in Ishikari, on the northern main island of Hokkaido, operated by Hokuren Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives. The other is in Nishinomiya in western Hyogo Prefecture, operated by Shinmei, the nation’s largest rice wholesaler.
A Shinmei executive welcomed the agreement, saying it would enable the company to “respond more swiftly to needs in China.”
In Beijing, Shinmei sells the popular Koshihikari rice variety, grown in central Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, for about 2,600 yen ($23.70) per 2kg. That is nearly double the retail price in Japan, and 80% higher than the price of Koshihikari produced in northeastern Niigata Prefecture and sold in Hong Kong.
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A Japanese farmer in Ibaraki Prefecture tends to his crop using a rice planting machine
One reason Japanese rice is so expensive in China is because of transport costs and distributor margins. Reducing costs is a principal challenge for Japanese rice exporters.
A Shinmei executive said that in addition to an effective marketing campaign in China, increasing rice exports requires serious cost-cutting in Japan.
For its rice exports to China, Shinmei has had to outsource the milling process to Zen-Noh. That means the rice wholesaler has to send rice harvested all across the country to the Zen-Noh plant in Kanagawa.
Since Zen-Noh’s mill and warehouses are not always available, this arrangement requires the time-consuming process of coordinating schedules between the two sides in advance.
As for fumigation to control insects, Beijing has approved only two facilities in Japan, both in Kanagawa. Under the new deal, Japan’s agriculture ministry will register five more fumigation warehouses for exports to China, including facilities in Hokkaido and Hyogo.
The new agreement will allow Shinmei to polish rice at its own mills and to fumigate it at a warehouse in Kobe for shipment to China from Kobe’s port.
China’s restrictions on food imports from Japan following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster are also a barrier to Japanese rice exports. China bans all food from 10 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Niigata.
The import curbs, which cover rice snacks, sake and other rice products, hit the rice industry hard, said Kosuke Kuji, president of Nanbu Bijin, a sake brewer based in Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture.
While Japan and China have set up a task force to discuss steps to ease the restrictions, there is not much reason for optimism about the outcome of the talks, an agriculture ministry official said.
The chairman of the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives, Toru Nakaya, is also cautious about the outlook for rice exports to China.
“We do not expect rapid progress, but we welcome the step forward,” Nakaya said of the recent agreement.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima officials see silver lining in radioactive cloud as Beijing mulls lifting food ban

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Friday, 11 May, 2018
Prefecture troubled by years after nuclear disaster welcomes talks between Beijing and Tokyo that could lead to Chinese ending import restrictions
More than seven years after their prefecture became the scene of the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, trade officials in Fukushima have welcomed reports that Japan and China will discuss lifting Beijing’s ban on imports of food from the region.
 
Most of the discussions focused on developments on the Korean Peninsula, but progress was made on bilateral issues – including food exports from Fukushima and the introduction of a hotline to prevent accidental clashes in the air and at sea – enhancing the recent sense that relations between Beijing and Tokyo are improving after several tense years.
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The Fukushima officials told the South China Morning Post that they hope that translates into Beijing reopening the door to exports of agricultural and fisheries products.
“Fukushima prefecture has been strictly monitoring food products since the accident and I strongly wish for the Chinese government to quickly lift the import restrictions based on the scientific evidence,” said Takahiro Ichimura, director of the prefecture’s Trade Promotion Council.
“Fukushima prefecture is extremely large, covering an area equal to Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures as well as Tokyo combined,” he emphasised. “Regarding the nuclear accident, the evacuation area near the power plant is an extremely small part of the prefecture.”
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Fukushima is also an important rice growing region for Japan and is famous for its seafood. In 2010, the year before the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a series of towering tsunami, around 153 tonnes of food were exported.
Fifty-four countries and regions imposed temporary import bans immediately after the double disaster, when radiation levels increased to unsafe levels and the Japanese government swiftly stopped shipments of food until safety could be guaranteed.
Since then, 27 countries have lifted their restrictions and the prefecture shipped 210 tonnes of agricultural products abroad last year, mainly to Malaysia and Thailand, although there has been a reluctance among some consumers to buy the products because of the lingering fear of radiation poisoning.
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Overseas exports closer to home – those to South Korea, mainland China and Taiwan – have not picked up, however, due to the same concerns about radioactivity.
At the moment, China bans imports of food from 10 prefectures in northeast Japan and even requires food from prefectures not subject to its total ban to include a certificate indicating its origin. Some products from outside the 10 prefectures are also required to undergo radiation inspections.
As recently as March, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor turned down a request during a visit by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono to lift the city’s ban on imports of fresh produce and milk from Fukushima and four neighbouring prefectures.
Lam also insisted that targeted radiation testing on products from the rest of Japan would continue.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

China considers easier access for Japanese food

 
2018/5/10
Li, Abe agree on experts’ panel to discuss new regulations
f7498611-7001-4137-b40a-ce52b3156713.jpeg
A farmer harvests rice in Tottori Prefecture, Japan in October 2017.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday signed an agreement to set up a joint body of experts to discuss the relaxation of an import ban on Japanese agricultural products, according to Japanese media reports.
 
The ban on products from Fukushima and nine other Japanese prefectures was imposed by China after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, reflecting fear of contamination.
 
An agreement was also reached on Wednesday to change the rules for rice exports from Japan to China.
 
Japan has been trying to increase its exports of agricultural products, aiming to reach 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) by 2019. China was the third-largest overseas market for Japanese produce last year at $900 million, according to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
 
Japan has been lobbying foreign countries to repeal their bans on the nation’s produce. A dispute on this issue with South Korea led to litigation at the WTO, which ruled in favor of Japan on February.
 
“Japan wants international recognition for agricultural products from Fukushima and its vicinity,” Zhang Jifeng, a research fellow with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with the Global Times.
 
“If the ban is lifted I would buy products from Japan,” said a shopper who frequents a Japanese-owned store in Beijing. “I expect that imported products will have passed strict safety requirements on both sides. The Japanese today are consuming their own products and they seem fine,” she said.
 
The agreement also opened the way for more Japanese rice sales to China. Since China first allowed imports of Japanese rice in 2007, all shipments of the grain had to be polished and fumigated at designated facilities in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of capital Tokyo.
 
The approved polishing facilities have been expanded from one to three, and fumigation facilities from five to seven, distributed across Japan. This change is expected to help sales of Japanese rice to China.
 
 “With more facilities for processing rice, Chinese consumers will have more options to buy rice from different Japanese regions,” an official with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, who only gave his name as Nozoe, said in an interview with Global Times.
 
“Having more facilities will also help speed up the process and lower costs, so we will able to provide Japanese rice at a more agreeable price for Chinese buyers,” he said.
 
Rice is the most consumed grain in both China and Japan, but annual per capita consumption in China, at 105 kilograms per year, is about double that of Japan with 54, according to Japanese government data.
 
Customs data show China imported 4 million tons of rice in 2017, mostly from Southeast Asia. And Japan is trying to expand its presence in China by appealing directly to consumers
 
 “We have now an antenna shop in Shanghai, where you can taste rice from different areas of Japan. E-commerce sites and Japanese restaurants in China also increasingly offer Japanese rice,” said Nozoe. But challenges remain.
 
An antenna shop refers to a physical store run by a government entity with the purpose of market research.
 
“Sales are constant but not very high,” a woman surnamed Zeng, owner of an online shop offering imported food, told the Global Times.
 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan immorality in pushing the export of its contaminated foods to other countries

From The Yomiuri Shimbun, a propaganda mouthpiece close to the Japanese government.

 

Give new impetus to countries to lift import bans on Japanese seafood

An unfair import ban imposed in reaction to the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture is unacceptable. Japan must make use of this clear judgment for countries to accelerate lifting such bans.

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel ruled that South Korea’s ban on fishery products imported from Japan amounts to “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” and violates WTO rules.

Citing the nuclear accident as a reason, South Korea has imposed a blanket import ban on fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, since September 2013. For some of the import items, the ban has a serious impact on the fishery industries in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident.

Japan filed complaints with the WTO in 2015, claiming Seoul’s ban was “not based on scientific grounds and hampered free trade.” It calls for the ban to be lifted on 28 kinds of fishery products, such as bonito and saury.

The WTO has sided with Japan because it did not get a satisfactory explanation from South Korea about why Seoul focused solely on fishery products imported from Japan.

Might Seoul have aimed to exclude Japanese fishery products that compete with those of South Korea? If so, such an attitude would run counter to the WTO’s principle of free trade and losing the case would be inevitable.

The South Korean government announced that it will appeal to a higher WTO panel, equivalent to a higher court. A situation should be avoided in which handing down the final decision is unnecessarily postponed.

Moves by S. Korea, China vital

It is reasonable that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito said, “[We] call for South Korea to sincerely and swiftly correct the violation of the [WTO] agreement.”

Japan exports products after subjecting them to an even stricter examination than is required by international standards on the influence of radioactive substances on foods.

The number of countries and regions that imposed import bans on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident was initially 54, but it declined by half to 27 as time went by.

In addition to South Korea, many of Japan’s main trading partners, including China, the United States and the European Union, still impose import restrictions on Japanese foods. Among other steps, they continue to ban importing some items or call for the presentation of certificates of inspection of Japanese foods.

In particular, China has taken the same level of strict restrictive measures as South Korea, and banned importing all foods from Tokyo and nine other prefectures.

The moves of China and South Korea seem to strongly influence other Asian countries and others that are still taking some kind of regulatory measures against Japanese foods.

In parallel with its efforts regarding South Korea, the Japanese government needs to make more efforts toward negotiations with China for lifting its import ban.

Although the government has set the goal of exporting ¥1 trillion worth of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and other foods in 2019, such exports remain sluggish.

It has been pointed out that meat and fruit imported from Japan, which have become luxury brands, are sought after and praised by wealthy people abroad, yet there are few products for the most populous middle-income bracket of other countries.

There is no doubt that lifting the import bans of each country would also contribute to the improvement of the image of Japanese products overall.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004265927

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Experts doubt lifting of Japan food ban

Concerns linger about imports from nuclear radiation area
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Quarantine officers inspect king crabs imported from Japan in Taicang, East China’s Jiangsu Province in December 2016.
The curbs on imports of Japanese food produced in areas hit by the country’s nuclear crisis will not be easily relaxed or lifted, and Chinese consumers won’t accept such imports given food safety concerns, experts said.
 
The comments came after reports in the Japanese media said that China will probably relax import restrictions on Japanese food that were put in place after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, signaling an improvement in relations between the two countries.
 
A report by Kyodo News Agency on January 1 said that China has proposed talks with Japan on whether to ease or lift an import ban on food from 10 prefectures imposed after the meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, citing related diplomatic sources.
 
China has offered to set up a working group to discuss the matter in response to a request by a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who visited Beijing and held talks with the Chinese side about relaxing import restrictions on December 29, 2017, said the Kyodo report.
 
It also noted that Zhi Shuping, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China’s quality watchdog, made the proposal when he met with Nikai that day.
 
The AQSIQ banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima in 2011, amid fears of radiation contamination following the disaster.
 
The quality watchdog did not reply to a request for comment from the Global Times as of press time. Neither has any official statement from the Japanese side been released.
 
The Kyodo report said the talks were “a sign that the governments of the two countries are looking for ways to mend ties as they mark [in 2018] the 40th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of peace and friendship between Japan and China.”
 
But this view was seen as overly optimistic by some Chinese experts.
 
Chen Zilei, deputy director of the National Association for the Japanese Economy, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the beginning of such talks does not mean an easing or lifting of the ban is imminent.
 
“The beginning of negotiations might signal an improvement in bilateral relations, but we have our own supervision standards and requirements for imported goods, which will not be changed,” Chen said.
 
Besides, Japan needs to publicize the accident-related information in a more open and transparent way in order to address the concerns, Chen said, adding that this would be a prerequisite for carrying out the negotiations.
 
“It is also Japan’s obligation to the international community,” he noted.
 
Many countries and regions, including China, the US, South Korea, Singapore and the EU, have curbed imports of food products from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant over fears of potential contamination, although some have recently eased their restrictions.
 
The EU has decided to ease import restrictions on Japan’s farm and marine products, including rice, the Japan Times reported in November.
 
Consumers’ concern
 
Ruan Guangfeng, director of the science and technology department at the China Food Information Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the radiation in the areas near Fukushima has returned to the level before the disaster happened, according to the related data.
 
“Even if the import ban is lifted, consumers do not need to worry too much, as the import checks will only be stricter,” Ruan noted.
 
However, not all consumers will draw confidence from the scientific conclusion, according to Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst.
 
“In terms of the industrial side, there is no big problem based on the efforts of the Japanese government as well as the long time it has taken to restore the situation. However, it is the consumer end, which takes up 80 percent of the importance in the food industry, that plays the key role,” Zhu told the Global Times on Wednesday.
 
“Most consumers have a psychological barrier against accepting food from the nuclear radiation areas,” Zhu said, noting that Japanese seafood has not been very popular in the Chinese market over the past two years, partly due to increasing competition from products from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Canada.
 
“Friends around me have declined to eat any Japanese seafood since the accident took place since you cannot tell whether it is from the radiation-stricken area or not,” he said.
 

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment