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Taiwanese protest plan to dump water from Japan nuclear plant into sea

November 19, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) A group of Taiwanese staged a protest in Taipei on Thursday against a plan by the Japanese government to release more than a million tonnes of water into the ocean from the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant, starting in 2022.

At the rally in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), some 20 supporters of the “Nuclear Go Zero” movement called on the ministry to push back, via diplomatic channels, against the Japanese government’s controversial plan.

Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), a lawyer affiliated with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association in Taiwan, said at the rally that releasing “contaminated” water from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power would pose a risk to humans who might eat the many marine species that migrate in the warm current between Taiwan and Japan.

Another protester, Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳), deputy CEO of the environmental organization Citizen of the Earth, said contamination of the marine ecology could last for 30-40 years, if the water is dumped into the ocean.

The protesters are opposed to a plan announced in October by the Japanese government to start releasing more than 1 million tonnes of water from the power plant, which was the site of a major nuclear disaster in 2011 when Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Since then, Japan has been trying to find a way of disposing of the water that was used to cool the power plant and which has been increasing in volume due to rainwater seeping into the structure, according to international news reports.

By summer of 2022, the 1,000 huge storage tanks will reach their full capacity, and the water will be treated, diluted, and released into the Pacific Ocean over several decades, the reports said.

At a regular press briefing Thursday, MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the Japanese government has not yet made a final decision on the issue, and MOFA will seek clarification.

She said the protesters have submitted a letter that has been passed on to the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, which will relay their concerns to the Japanese government via Taiwan’s representative office in Tokyo.

“MOFA is also concerned about the issue, as the maritime environment, ecological conservation, and health of our citizens may be at risk,” Ou said

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202011190015

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan to talk to Japan on radioactive wastewater discharge

November 9, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council said Monday it will continue to contact Japan on how the country plans to deal with contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is expected to run out of storage space in 2022.

The power plant has been shut down since it experienced a nuclear meltdown in 2011 after Japan was hit by a massive tsunami and earthquake, and it currently stores more than 1 million cubic meters of water containing tritium, a radioactive variant of hydrogen.

Tritium cannot be removed from water with existing technology, but because it poses a relatively low risk to human health, it is common for nuclear plants to dump water with tritium into the ocean after diluting it.

The Fukushima plant’s plan to dump its stored water that way has received pushback from people who live in the region, especially fishermen, who fear that it will damage the region’s reputation, according to local media reports.

Another option is to evaporate the wastewater into the air, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In August 2019, the company that runs the power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., announced that storage space for the contaminated water would run out in 2022.

This issue was brought up in Taiwan on Monday by Legislator Wu Szu-yao (吳思瑤) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who asked the Atomic Energy Council to come up with contingency plans.

In response, the council said that the Japanese government has not yet decided when and how it will deal with the wastewater.

The council reached out to the Japanese government in September 2019 and March 2020 to ask about the situation and remind Japan to share timely information about the situation in accordance with a memorandum signed between the two countries in 2014.

It said it will keep in contact with Japan to obtain necessary information.

The council has also conducted tests to monitor the level of tritium in Taiwan’s surrounding waters and found that current levels are normal, it said.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Chiang Yi-ching)

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202011090021

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan green groups urge Japan not to discharge radioactive water

kjmlmlA coalition of environmental protection groups chants slogan in front of the Taipei office of Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, on May 13, 2020

 

May 14, 2020

TAIPEI (Kyodo) — A coalition of environmental protection groups in Taiwan on Wednesday urged the Japanese government to refrain from releasing radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

Chanting the slogan “No to dumping radioactive water into the ocean,” representatives of the organization presented a petition to the Taipei office of Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, in the morning.

National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform spokeswoman Tsuei Su-hsin emphasized that they did not come to protest, but rather to urge the Japanese government to refrain from making decisions to cut costs at the expense of the environment.

“There are safer and more sustainable alternatives,” Tsuei said.

The Japanese government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at the time are currently considering ways to safely dispose of the more than 1 million tons of water contaminated with radioactive materials after being used to cool the melted fuel cores at the plant.

A decision needs to be made soon as space for storing the water, which has been treated but is still contaminated with low-toxicity radioactive tritium, is fast running out.

Methods being discussed include releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean and evaporating it, both of which the government says will have minimal effect on human health.

A panel of experts advising the government on a disposal method has recommended releasing it into the ocean. The government is soliciting opinions from the public before it makes a decision in the summer. Based on past practice, it is likely to accept the recommendation.

Tsai Ya-ying, an activist and lawyer of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, said as Japan is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is obligated to take all measures within the Convention that are necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source.

Discharging the water into the ocean could amount to a violation of the Convention, she said.

Liu Jyh-jian, president of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, urged the Japanese government to make a decision that is friendly to both the environment and to mankind.

He added that if the tritium enters the food chain, it is bound to cause harm to humans in the long run.

Tsai Chung-yueh, deputy secretary general of Citizen of the Earth, voiced concern that the Japanese government may be too preoccupied with fighting COVID-19 to make a decision that is environmentally sustainable.

The contaminated water is increasing by about 170 tons per day. Space is expected to run out by summer 2022.

Local Japanese fishermen and residents have expressed concerns about releasing the water on food and the environment.

Widespread concerns remain as well, with many countries and regions still restricting imports of Japanese agricultural and fishery products in the wake of the 2011 disaster that was triggered by a major earthquake and tsunami.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200513/p2g/00m/0in/112000c

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan groups reject Japan plan to dump radioactive wastewater

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May 13, 2020

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) About 20 environmental protection groups on Wednesday delivered a petition to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, expressing opposition to the discharge of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Roughly 1.2 million metric tons of contaminated water remains from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit the plant on March 11, 2011, destroying key cooling functions and causing a huge leakage of radiation.

The wastewater contains approximately 880 trillion becquerels of tritium, a hydrogen isotope that experts say poses a relatively low risk to human health.

The Japanese government is currently soliciting public opinion on wastewater treatment until June 15, after which it will decide what to do with the contaminated water. One of the options is dumping it into the ocean.

“We learned Japan is considering discharging wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the ocean. The plan will cause radioactive contamination to marine ecology. We were astonished to learn this and resolutely oppose it,” the Taiwanese groups said in their petition.

The groups said they were not there to protest but to appeal to the Japanese government to listen to neighboring countries and not to make the wrong decision.

Currently, 2,000 groups and individuals around the world have signed a petition opposing discharging the wastewater into the sea, while about 20 groups in Taiwan submitted a petition to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, said Tsui Shu-hsin (崔愫欣), General Secretary of anti-nuclear organization Green Citizens’ Action Alliance.

If Japan goes ahead with such a plan, the Taiwanese groups do not rule out holding protests, Tsui said.

Releasing the wastewater into the sea is not the only option, Tsui said, adding that it could also be put into larger storage tanks by consolidating the sludge or soil particles, though that would be more expensive.

Although discharging the wastewater into the ocean is the cheapest approach, “We resolutely oppose using this treatment method,” Tsui said.

Despite the fact that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., (TEPCO) has installed filtration systems to remove radioactive isotopes strontium-90 and caesium-137, it cannot remove tritium residue in the wastewater, while 70 percent of the water still contains the radioactive elements strontium-90 and caesium-137.

As such, dumping the wastewater into the ocean, could cause enormous damage to the marine environment, said Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), a lawyer affiliated with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.

Japan, a signatory country of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, should adopt all necessary measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment in accordance with Article 194 of the convention. It also needs to ensure other countries do not suffer from the effects of environmental damage caused by contamination, Tsai noted.

She called on Japan to reject the possibility of dumping radioactive wastewater into the sea to avoid adversely impacting neighboring countries and hurting good relations between Taiwan and Japan.

https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202005130011

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan heavily lobbying for its contamined food exports

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This photo taken on April 17, 2015, shows a retail store in Taipei selling Japanese food and pharmaceutical products.
Taiwan’s lifting food import ban key to economic deals: Japan group
October 5, 2019
TAIPEI (Kyodo) — Lifting the ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is key for Taiwan to join any economic deals with Japan or other countries in the region, the Japanese business community in Taipei said on Friday.
In its annual white paper, the Taipei branch of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Japanese business community in Taipei urged the Taiwan government to relax or lift restrictions on the food ban imposed over eight years ago.
“We hope the Taiwan government will change all practices and rules that run counter to international practices and are unique only in Taiwan, so it can ink any economic partnership agreement of its wish,” it said, adding that the ban on the food exports of five Japanese prefectures is a particular case.
The local Japanese chamber with 480 member companies called on the government to base its decisions on scientific evidence and international standards.
It pointed out that as of Aug. 1, all food products imported from Japan have passed inspections since March 15, 2011, while the Japanese government conducts strict inspections on all food products and only those that are safe can be sold at markets or exported.
It also emphasized that of the 54 countries or regions that imposed restrictions on Japanese food products since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, 32 of them have completely lifted their bans as of July.
The European Union and the United States have also lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions, though six countries or regions — including South Korea, China and Taiwan — continue a blanket ban on food products from Fukushima and certain adjacent prefectures.
National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling, who accepted the white paper on the government’s behalf, told chamber members that more persuasion of the Taiwanese public is needed.
A public referendum on maintaining the ban, initiated by the main opposition Nationalist Party, successfully passed in November 2018.
Chen dismissed speculation that Japan will not begin talks with Taiwan on joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership until the food ban issue is addressed, saying they are two different matters.
Go Ishikawa, chairman of the Japanese chamber, said all suggestions the chamber made in the white paper are purely business without taking into any consideration of Taiwan’s January elections.
No matter who will win the polls, Ishikawa said, the chamber will continue to urge the new Taiwan government to ease or lift the ban.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan warns Japan over radioactive water release

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The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2016. Over the years since, tens of thousands of people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks. But what to do about the leftover waste water?
September 25, 2019
Some in Taiwan also fear a repeat of Japan’s disaster as a nuclear plant sits close to fault lines on the island
Taiwan has warned Japan not to dump radioactive water from the burned-out reactor cores at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima into the nearby ocean, fearing prevailing currents may eventually push the polluted water to its own shores.
In March 2011, a devastating tsunami triggered by an undersea tremor buffeted the major nuclear base supplying power to Tokyo, and the apocalyptic disaster made a large swathe of the neighboring areas uninhabitable as well as a spillover of polluted dust into the capital city.
Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council (AEC) fears that currents could carry polluted water across the Pacific Ocean to the coastline as far as North America, which may flow back to Taiwan in three to six years.
The AEC said on Tuesday it would file a complaint with the Japanese government if it decided to discharge the radioactive water into the sea, but it also stressed that Japanese officials and scientists had not yet reached a consensus on what to do with the staggering amount of contaminated water.
Japan’s environmental protection ministry and Tokyo Electric Power Co which owns the mangled nuclear reactors in Fukushima say the one-million-tonne storage of radioactive water used to cool the reactors to prevent further meltdown would be filled to the brim within three years.
Japan is mulling a plan to release part of the less radioactive waste water – reportedly 10,000 tonnes – into the sea, an idea that instantly stoked fears in neighboring countries, including Taiwan and South Korea.
If the water from the reactors enters the Pacific Ocean, it would first be carried by currents to North America from Alaska, Canada’s British Columbia all the way down to California, before moving southward and reaching Taiwan in three to six years, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Germany-based Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research.
That said, it is believed that by the time the radioactive water returned to Asia and reached Taiwan, the pollutants would have been attenuated to a concentration of nearly one in 10,000, far less harmful after the dilution process in the vast Pacific Ocean.
The island’s nuclear energy watchdog says that water and fishery products in nine ports across Taiwan are regularly sampled to test for radioactivity, without having any abnormal findings so far.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

China, Fukushima and inflatable poop: how Taiwan got frozen out of Asia’s biggest trade deal

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19 January, 2019
The eleven members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will be meeting for the first time since it came into force at the end of last year
Taiwan’s entry has been blocked by China and clashes with the US and Japan over food imports, experts say
Taiwan will be looking on enviously as trade officials meet in Tokyo this weekend to discuss expanding one of the world’s largest free trade agreements (FTA).
The eleven members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will be meeting for the first time since it came into force at the end of last year.
And while many potential new entrants – including Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand – are high on the agenda, Taiwan faces an uphill struggle for admission.
Its diplomatic stand-off with China has left it frozen out of most multilateral organisations. The fact that many nations refuse to recognise its nationhood means it does not have a seat at the United Nations, for instance.
Many suspect that Beijing is also blocking its membership in the CPTPP, which consists of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, and which the Taiwanese government is desperate to join.
China’s influence also means Taiwan has struggled to sign FTAs with other countries, despite being a relatively open economy, compared to some of those under consideration in the CPTPP.
“They are – by far – the most prepared, and even adjusted their domestic laws for intellectual property to match CPTPP rules already,” said Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, a free market lobby group.
Taiwan currently has only a handful of free trade deals, with mainly peripheral economies: Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, New Zealand, Paraguay and Singapore.
Most of those were signed when it was under the rule of the Kuomintang (KMT) and so on friendlier terms with China.
“Taiwan has been struggling to conclude some FTAs for many years because China’s good at blocking them at the diplomatic level,” said John Marrett, Asia analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“If Taiwan joined, it would be the signatory in most dire need of joining. Many of those involved have deals with one third or one half of the other nations already under their belt in bilateral or multilateral terms,” he said.
“The impetus is not as strong as for Taiwan. It’s a massive deal for Taiwan, so you can understand why they’ve put so much effort into this, and they’re ready to go. But they’ve got this massive issue of China blocking its entry,” Parrett added.
Compare that with Hong Kong, which is likely to conclude an FTA with the Asean group of 10 nations this year, is negotiating with the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), and which already has deals with Australia and New Zealand.
“Whether it is in the benefit of Hong Kong to enter into the CPTPP because it does not have an FTA or plan to forge an FTA with Canada [the only CPTPP country it has yet to negotiate with] maybe we have other priorities,” said Louis Chan, assistant principal economist at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
The Taiwanese premier, Lai Ching-te told local media last year that the difficulties facing Taiwan’s accession are “completely because of China’s political obstacles”.
This view was confirmed by former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, who told Fairfax Media that China had blocked a potential FTA between Australia and Taiwan.
“The Chinese government made it clear to me that circumstances had changed between Taiwan and mainland China and that China would not look favourably on Australia seeking to pursue an FTA with Taiwan,” she said.
For a new country to join the CPTPP, all the member nations must agree. For a small nation such as Brunei, one of the CPTPP-11, it may be difficult to face down any pressure from Beijing.
In an email exchange, Andrés Rebolledo a trade economist who, until last year, served as the energy minister of Chile, told the South China Morning Post that “in a scenario in which these economies [Hong Kong and Taiwan] request to enter, the member countries of CPTPP-11 should also consider the impact on their relationship with China”.
However, China is not the only hurdle facing Taiwan in joining the world’s third largest trade deal, which is being gradually ratified by its member states, with Vietnam the latest to pass it into law.
When the US dumped the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after Donald Trump’s election, there were hopes that it might lower the barriers to entry for Taiwan.
The two countries have clashed repeatedly on trade and investment negotiations, particularly over agriculture.
Taiwan (along with other Asian nations) banned US beef imports after traces of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE – also known as “Mad Cow Disease”) were found in American cattle.
The ban was lifted in 2016, but US pork remains under an embargo, due to the use of ractopamine, an additive commonly fed to US livestock. The bans have angered generations of US trade officials, who have found negotiating with their Taiwanese counterparts challenging, but it looks unlikely that Taiwan will budge on pork.
One US trade delegation was greeted in Taiwan by protesting farmers, brandishing a big inflatable poop, said a former trade negotiator, speaking on background.
“The farmers control trade policy and Taiwan has very crazy farmers just like Korea, Japan, the US and the EU,” the official recalled.
The US’ exit made Japan the most significant economy in the CPTPP, but it has also clashed with Taiwan over agricultural products.
In November, Taiwan voted in a referendum to uphold a ban on food imports from the areas around the Fukushima nuclear plant site, infuriating the Japanese government.
The Japanese foreign minister said the results were “extremely disappointing”, and it’s expected that this could also hold up Taiwan’s progress toward joining the CPTPP.
Such “trade irritants” are viewed as “standard operating procedure” in Taiwan by the US source.
A Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told local press this week that the government will be watching the Tokyo round closely.
“We are continuing our talks with Tokyo to convince them that the food ban issue and Taiwan’s inclusion in the CPTPP should be discussed separately,” they said.
But all the signs suggest that for the foreseeable future, Taiwan will continue to look on from the outside.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan Votes to Maintain Import Ban on Fukushima Food Imports

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December 3, 2018
While Fukushima suffered a blow, trade ties between Japan and Taiwan avoided any major impact.
On Friday, Japan and Taiwan signed off on five bilateral trade pacts just days after Taiwan voted in a referendum to uphold an import ban on agricultural products from areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear fallout.
Last week, 7.8 million voters in Taiwan approved renewing a legally binding food ban that was originally imposed after the nuclear disaster in 2011. The ongoing agricultural ban covers five Japanese prefectures including Fukushima and nearby Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba over an extended two year period. Although the setback was expected to put a strain on bilateral relations, outright animosity has been diverted for now.
While there was no hiding the tension during two days of annual trade talks in Taipei, negotiations remained on cordial terms. In the absence of formal diplomatic representatives, leaders of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association reached one agreement to speed up customs clearance on trade goods and four memorandums of understanding dealing with exchanges of patent information, business partnerships, medical equipment trade, and joint research.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono described the referendum results as “extremely disappointing” based on government efforts to provide food safety information and its continuous requests to lift the ban. Critics pointed out that the issue of Fukushima food safety was addressed on the referendum without any scientific backing. Kono said he was planning to retaliate by taking into consideration all available options as a future response. One tactic included advancing the World Trade Organization dispute settlement route and pushing efforts to persuade public opinion in Taiwan based on scientific data.
Although Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has called for closer exchanges between the two countries, she also stressed the need to respect the referendum as the embodiment of public opinion. Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee also responded saying they will handle the issue “carefully” and seek understanding from the Japanese side.
Taiwan has also been seeking to sign a full free trade agreement with Japan, the island’s third largest trading partner, but momentum to accelerate negotiations has stalled since the referendum. Taiwan’s lack of support in dispelling misinformation based on scientific inspection fueled criticisms in Japan that the food ban referendum was politically motivated by anti-Japanese feelings.
However, Taiwan isn’t the only government to regulate Fukushima imports behind the backdrop of radiation concerns. China, South Korea, Singapore, and Macau are among the neighbors imposing partial seafood and farm produce restrictions to varying degrees. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori acknowledged how rumors and hearsay overseas were making it difficult to eliminate import embargoes, but said progress on the safety of prefectural products can be seen from the number of countries easing restrictions. The number of countries limiting imports from the area has dropped from an initial 54 to 25.
A major breakthrough signaling regional attitudes are loosening up came with China’s announcement that they will begin to relax import restrictions on rice from Japan’s west coast Niigata prefecture. China suspended imports of all animal feed, agriculture and fisheries products after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. But after scientific evaluation, described as examining wind direction and distance from the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor, Chinese President Xi Jinping cancelled import restrictions on the condition that white and brown rice are processed at milling factories registered with the Chinese Customs Authority.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to persuade Xi to lift restrictions at the bilateral summit in October have paid off, symbolizing a warming of political ties.
Niigata is one of Japan’s flagship regions for rice production and there is growing demand for the staple food in China, which consumes 20 times more rice than Japan and amounts to 30 percent of the world market. Seven years after the ban was first imposed, its abolition unlocks the potential to expand exports within a market of wealthy consumers eager for high end Japanese rice.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

Japan may take Taiwan’s Fukushima food import ban to WTO

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December 2, 2018
Japan may take Taiwan’s import ban on food products from Fukushima and other prefectures affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster to the World Trade Organization, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Sunday.
“It goes against the WTO’s quarantine-related agreement,” Kono said, referring to Taiwan’s ban on products from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.
 
Taiwan voted to maintain the ban in a legally binding referendum on Nov. 25. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said the ministry respected public opinion on the issue and will explain to Japan the safety concerns of the Taiwanese public.
At the WTO, “there is a procedure that allows (a member state) to file a complaint. If necessary, we need to act,” Kono told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture.
“The WTO sets clear rules that (import bans) should be decided based on scientific foundations,” he said.
Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the prefectural government has sought to ease consumer concern about the safety of farm and fishery products through radiation checks.
Since 2015, all shipments of rice from Fukushima have cleared the screening, with radioactive cesium levels below the 100 becquerel per kilogram limit set by the Japanese government for agricultural, forestry and fishery products. No samples of vegetables and fruit from Fukushima have exceeded the legal limit in inspections since April 2013, and no fishery products have since 2015.
The Japanese chamber in Taiwan, with 471 member companies, has also called on the Taiwanese government to re-examine the ban based on scientific evidence.
As of August, the Taiwanese government has inspected over 125,000 samples of imported food products from Japan since March 15, 2011, with none exceeding the island’s legal limits for radiation, according to the Japanese chamber.
Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner, while Taiwan is Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban

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Taiwan to seek understanding as Japan threatens to sue over food ban
November 29, 2018
Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) Taiwan will seek Japan’s understanding in a row over a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from radiation contaminated areas in Japan, the foreign ministry said Thursday, in response to a threat by Japan to take the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
 
Earlier in the day, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono told lawmakers in Tokyo that the government will not rule out the possibility of filing a complaint with the WTO over the ban, which has been in place since the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011.
 
Kono’s statement came after Taiwanese voted on Nov. 24 in favor of maintaining the ban, by margin of 78 percent to 22 percent in a referendum.
 
Commenting on Kono’s remarks, Andrew Lee (李憲章), spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said the ministry will cautiously engage in talks with Japan over the referendum result to seek understanding and protect the bilateral relations.
 
The Taiwan government has to respect public opinion, as expressed in the referendum result, but it also has to make sure that its cordial relations with Japan are not affected, Lee said.
 
He said it is MOFA’s long held stance that any decision on the ban must be based on international standards, scientific evidence and the relevant WTO rules.
 
In addition, the health of the Taiwanese people must be taken into consideration, Lee said, adding that the final decision on the issue rests with Ministry of Health and Welfare.
 
In 2015, Japan filed a complaint with the WTO against South Korea over a similar ban and won the case on Feb. 22 this year.
 
The WTO said the ban was inconsistent with its rules against “arbitrarily or unjustifiably” discriminating against another country and recommended that South Korea take corrective action.
 
South Korea, however, has appealed the WTO ruling and has maintained the ban.
 
Taiwan’s ban on food products from radiation-contaminated areas of Japan, namely Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, was imposed in 2011 by the then-Kuomintang government and tightened in 2015 after products from some of the listed Japanese prefectures were found on store shelves in Taiwan.
 
Since the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2016, it has been considering lifting the ban on food imports from all the affected prefectures except Fukushima, but has run into strong public opposition to the idea. 
Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban
November 30, 2018
Japan signed five trade agreements with Taiwan on Friday, despite the ongoing ban on imports of Japanese food products that Taipei imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It had been feared that the ban, which is to be upheld following last week’s national referendum, could upset trade ties between the two sides.
Yet Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen and his Japanese counterpart, Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association – the closest thing the two have to ambassadors in the absence of diplomatic ties – still signed one agreement and four memorandums of understanding at the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei, signalling their mutual desire to overlook the issue for now.
The agreement pertains to the speeding up of customs clearance process for goods traded between Japan and Taiwan, while the four MOUs deal with a wide range of trade issues, including the exchange of patent information, business partnerships, trade in medical equipment and materials, joint research, and cooperation in promoting small and medium-sized enterprises.
All five were signed only six days after Taiwanese voters approved a referendum requiring the government to maintain a ban on food imports from Fukushima prefecture and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures. In campaigning ahead of last Saturday’s referendum and in the days since, much attention focused on whether its passage would drive a wedge between Japan and Taiwan, especially when they are otherwise working to cooperate more closely on security matters.
According to diplomatic insiders, Ohashi expressed regret over the referendum result when he visited Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday.
Tsai reportedly described bilateral ties as “stable” and “close,” and said Taiwan hopes Tokyo will support its bid to participate in the second round of accession talks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement in which Japan plays a leading role.
In the trade talks, Taiwanese negotiators raised that issue, Chang Shu-ling, secretary general of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, told a press conference after the signing ceremony. She also dismissed speculation that the food ban referendum would have any negative impact on bilateral relations, saying the trade agreements were a clear demonstration of close ties.
Japanese negotiators had asked Taiwan to ease the food ban on scientific grounds, while Taiwanese officials stressed the civic right of its people to affect policy through referendums.
On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told the Diet that Tokyo did not rule out taking the matter to the World Trade Organisation, which has already ruled that South Korea’s import ban on seafood from Fukushima and other parts of Japan is “arbitrarily and unjustifiably” discriminatory. South Korea has appealed the ruling.
China, meanwhile, on Thursday lifted its ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, but maintained restrictions on nine other prefectures.
Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Frank Hsieh, previously said that if China eased its restrictions before Taiwan, the latter would be “embarrassed” because it would become the only place to retain a comprehensive ban on Japanese food products from regions affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster.

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

Taiwan and Japan to hold trade talks in shadow of vote to keep post-Fukushima food ban

 

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Nov 27, 2018

TAIPEI – Taiwan and Japan will hold annual trade talks in Taipei this week, coming after a weekend referendum in the former that could have a negative impact on bilateral relations.
Sources familiar with the two-day talks from Thursday say that both sides are planning to sign at least six agreements or memorandums of understanding.

They will cover a wide range of areas, including cooperation in management of medical equipment and materials, joint research by young researchers, and the mutual support and advancement of cooperation between small and medium-size businesses.
On Saturday, a majority of Taiwanese voted in favor of maintaining a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures that was imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Frank Hsieh, earlier warned that if the referendum were approved, Taiwan would have a “grave price” to pay.
That “grave price” could include Taiwan’s bid to join a Japan-led trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Taiwan has expressed its desire to participate in the second-round of accession talks on numerous occasions.
Taiwan has also been seeking to sign a full-fledged free trade agreement with Japan. However, the ban on the imports of Japanese food products has stalled negotiations on the trade pact.
Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, which were severed in 1972, the unofficial relationship between Taiwan and Japan has remained robust.
Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner after China, including Hong Kong, while Taiwan is Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner.
Bilateral trade totaled $62.7 billion last year, up about 4 percent from the previous year. Japanese investment in Taiwan last year also increased more than 84 percent from the previous year to $649 million.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/27/national/politics-diplomacy/taiwan-japan-hold-trade-talks-shadow-vote-keep-post-fukushima-food-ban/#.W_6-RfZFzIX

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima farmers see need to better publicize ‘food safety’

 

hggjhVegetables produced in Fukushima Prefecture are withdrawn from the shelves of a supermarket in the city of Fukushima on March 23, 2011

 

November 25, 2018
FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — Farmers and fishermen in Fukushima called for further efforts to convince the public that their food is safe to eat on Sunday after Taiwan decided to maintain its import ban on Japanese food from areas affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Taiwan’s public voted in a referendum Saturday to maintain the ban on agricultural products and other food from Fukushima and four other prefectures.
“All we can do is to work harder until people understand that our products are safe,” said Masao Koizumi, a rice farmer in Fukushima.
The prefectural government of Fukushima has been conducting radiation checks on all rice produced in the prefecture. Since 2015, all shipments cleared the screening, with radioactive cesium levels below the 100-becquerel-per-kilogram limit set by the central government.
“When people see the inspection readings, they will know that there is no threat of radioactive materials,” Koizumi said.
Tetsu Nozaki, the head of an association representing fishery cooperatives in the prefecture, said, “We are disappointed, but we just need to make sure that we keep communicating the safety of our products.”
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181125/p2g/00m/0dm/049000c

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese business group decries Taiwan’s continued ban on Japanese food imports in wake of 3/11

 

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November 10, 2018
TAIPEI – The Japanese business community in Taipei on Friday lamented over Taiwan’s continued ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In its annual white paper, the Taipei branch of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Japanese business community in Taipei is disappointed that the issue has been manipulated into a “political problem.”
“We are deeply disappointed and think it’s extremely dangerous that the (Taiwan) government continues the ban without any support of scientific evidence,” it said.
The local Japanese chamber, with 471 member companies, urged the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen to make a “cool-headed judgment based on conscience to avoid undermining sound Japan-Taiwan relations.”
It also called on the Taiwan government to re-examine the ban based on scientific evidence. As of August, the Taiwan government had conducted inspections on more than 125,000 units of food products imported from Japan since March 15, 2011, with none exceeding the legal limits for radiation, it pointed out.
Other countries and regions such as the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore have relaxed restrictions on food imports from Fukushima Prefecture and other affected areas, it added.
The World Trade Organization has ruled that Taiwan’s continued import ban on seafood from Fukushima and other parts of Japan as “arbitrarily and unjustifiably” discriminatory measures. China and Japan are also in talks about easing the ban, it said.
The Tsai government proposed easing the ban after coming to power in May 2016, only to back away when the main opposition Kuomintang questioned the new government’s ability to ensure the safety of the imported products.
Kuomintang has initiated a referendum seeking to maintain the ban. The initiative, along with nine others on other issues, will be put to a vote in conjunction with the nationwide local elections on Nov. 24.
National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling, who accepted the chamber’s policy proposal Friday, said the Taiwan government must complete all necessary safety assessments and communications with the public before it considers adjusting the policy.
“Then it’ll be just waiting for the right time to lift the ban,” she said.
Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, which were severed in 1972, the unofficial relationship between Taiwan and Japan has remained robust.
Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner after China, including Hong Kong, while Taiwan is Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner.
Bilateral trade totaled $62.7 billion last year, up about 4 percent from the previous year. Japanese investment in Taiwan last year also increased more than 84 percent from the previous year to $649 million.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/10/national/japanese-business-group-decries-taiwans-continued-ban-japanese-food-imports-wake-3-11/#.W-b_kfZFzIU

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan: COA, KMT official present opposing views of Japanese food ban

It is odd that only mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea are maintaining the Japanese food ban to protect their population from radiation contaminated food, while ours pass deals with the Japanese gouvernment and even letting them to promote it in special trade shows sponsored by the japanese embassies….
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Taipei, Nov. 3 (CNA) A Council of Agriculture (COA) official and a former Taipei mayor argued the merits Saturday of lifting a ban on imports of food from parts of Japan affected by a nuclear plant disaster in March 2011 ahead of a referendum on the issue later this month.
The two separately argued their positions on the issue in prepared presentations, with COA deputy chief Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) saying Taiwan’s inspection rules for food imports would keep the public safe if the ban were lifted.
But former Taipei mayor and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who proposed the referendum, said the radioactive substances that still exist in the affected areas in Japan pose a potential threat to consumers and Taiwan’s food safety.
The referendum question, one of 10 up for a vote on Nov. 24, will ask voters: “Do you agree the government should maintain the ban on imports of agricultural products and food from areas in Japan affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster on March 11, 2011, including Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures?”
In arguing the government’s position that the ban should be lifted, Chen said Taiwan has embraced stricter standards than other countries for inspecting food items that could be contaminated by radioactive substances.
The inspection process in Taiwan is transparent, meaning that the government can assure the public that Japanese food allowed to be put on store shelves is 100 percent safe, he said.
Hau argued that the radiation leaks from the Fukushima power plant has damaged the soil, water and the general environment in the area, and if radionuclides such as cesium and strontium affect fish or other agricultural items in Japan, the impact will be felt for a long time.
Once people in Taiwan consume these tainted food items, Hau said, it will be like ingesting poison, in effect posing a risk to food safety in Taiwan.
In particular, Hau said, Taiwan is geographically close to Japan and Taiwanese like to eat Japanese food, meaning the government should have a zero tolerance policy for food safety and continue to ban food and agricultural product imports from the radiation-affected areas.
Taiwan imposed the ban on food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures on March 25, 2011, two weeks after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was battered by a major earthquake and tsunami.
It soon suffered a nuclear meltdown that led to large amounts of radioactive substances being spewed into the environment.
Hau said the public has the right to be free of potential scares from eating contaminated Japanese food resulting from the nuclear disaster.
Chen argued, however, that many countries such as the United States, Singapore and South Korea and countries in Europe have opted to closely monitor high contamination risks related to food imports from Japan rather than continuing to impose a complete ban.
In other words, those countries allow the sale of foods from the radiation-affected areas in Japan if they are determined to be safe through inspections, the official said.
According to Chen, Taiwan and China are the only countries in the world to maintain a complete ban on foods from these parts of Japan, and he said Taiwan should adopt pragmatic measures on the issue.
The Democratic Progressive Party government, which has traditionally had close ties with Japan, has tried to lift the ban since taking power in May 2016 but has yet to succeed because of popular resistance.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

WATCH OUT: Japan is pushing exports of its radiation contaminated agricultural products to other countries saying there is no radiation anymore in Fukushima

Japanese regions struggle to export farm produce to Taiwan as radiation fears politicized

 

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Information boards explain stringent safety measures taken in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo during an agricultural expo held in the northwestern Taiwanese city of Taoyuan in May 2018.
September 30, 2018
TAIPEI, TAOYUAN, Taiwan/BEIJING — Some local governments in Japan are struggling to export their agricultural products to Taiwan as Taipei is expected to conduct a referendum on whether or not to lift a ban on imports from five Japanese prefectures following the 2011 disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
During a recent agricultural exhibition held in the city of Taouyan in northwestern Taiwan, few participants dropped by a booth run by the government of Chiba Prefecture in eastern Japan, which is one of five prefectures hit by the ban. The remaining four prefectures are Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma, all north of Tokyo. In contrast, the stall of Miyazaki was inundated by visitors trying to test the juicy beef the southern Japan prefecture is famous for.
Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita visited Taiwan in November last year and met with Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. They agreed that local sweets made from peanuts harvested in Chiba should be made available in Taiwan, too. As Chen is said to be close to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, an individual who accompanied the governor told the Mainichi Shimbun that the two leaders had “a fairly in-depth discussion” toward lifting the ban.
However, at the agricultural festival earlier this year in Taoyuan, the Chiba government was not allowed to bring in food samples because of the import ban. Officials only had a video and panels explaining the safety of agricultural products in Chiba. “We want the ban to be lifted as soon as possible,” emphasized an official during the event.
Fukushima also wants to resume exports of peaches to Taiwan, which was the biggest overseas market for the fruit before the nuclear accident. The radioactive fallout from the TEPCO power plant contaminated a large swath of land near the facility. The Ibaraki Prefectural Government also sees Taiwan as a promising market for its agricultural items.
Taiwan ranked fourth among overseas markets for Japanese farm and food products last year, importing 83.8 billion yen out of the 807.1 billion yen total value. Hong Kong is the No. 1 importer, followed by the United States and China.
The Tsai administration is positive about lifting the ban, as most Japanese farm products do not contain detectable levels of radioactive materials under a strict screening system. Administration officials say if Taiwan came after China in resuming the import of Japanese farm products, it would be a blow to its relationship with Japan, which is vital for Taipei, along with its ties with the U.S., to counter Beijing. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and is trying to bring the island back into its fold eventually.
But people close to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party say Taiwan’s largest opposition party Kuomintang is using the issue to wage a political attack on the ruling party, fanning up public fear toward farm products from the five Japanese prefectures as “nuclear food.” The November referendum is expected to be called after the opposition collected some 470,000 signatures, more than the legally required number, to conduct the vote.
Taiwan is not alone in blocking Japanese agricultural products from entering the domestic market. It wasn’t until July this year that Hong Kong lifted its ban on agricultural items from four Japanese prefectures, but it still keeps its door closed to Fukushima produce.
China also continues to deny the import of agricultural and food items from 10 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions in the northern and eastern parts of the country, respectively, including Tokyo. The country accepts produce from other Japanese regions only if the goods come with certificates saying they are radiation free.
The Japanese government and business community have repeatedly demanded that Beijing relax the regulations, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in May to set up a joint panel of experts to discuss the removal of the restriction.
The reason behind the intransigence indicated by some Asian countries and regions in denying Japanese farm produce is public concern. A survey of consumers in 10 countries and regions in the United States, Europe and Asia in February last year found that 81 percent of respondents in Taiwan said they were “worried about Fukushima produce.” The ratio stood at 69.3 percent in South Korea, followed by China with 66.3 percent. But a domestic poll in Japan by the Consumer Affairs Agency in February 2018 found that people hesitating to buy products from Fukushima was just 12.7 percent.
According to associate professor Naoya Sekiya of the University of Tokyo, a specialist in disaster information studies who conducted the 10-country/region survey last year, “the negative image caused by the 2011 nuclear accident just stuck, and people are not aware of food safety checks.” Only 10 percent-plus of people in South Korea responded that they knew about the complete radiation checks on all Fukushima rice carried out by the prefectural government. The ratio was just more than 20 percent for Taiwan, while 40 percent of Japanese respondents said yes.
Farmers in areas affected by the nuclear disaster have made efforts to reduce radiation, including the use of potassium to prevent the absorption of radioactive cesium from the fallout. Seventeen prefectures as well as agricultural cooperatives and shipment companies are testing their farm products. During the past three years, more than 99 percent of tested items did not contain detectable levels of radiation. In Fukushima, too, no rice was found to contain radiation above acceptable levels.
“Just telling people how tasty the food items are is not enough,” said Sekiya. “You also have to convey that airborne radiation levels are completely different from those right after the accident, no radioactive materials have been detected in food items, and the checking system functions with no problems.”

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment