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Monday, April 25, 2011

Beijing, Seoul to maintain limits on food imports


Staff writer

At meetings in Tokyo on Sunday, trade minister Banri Kaieda failed to persuade his Chinese and South Korean counterparts to ease food import restrictions introduced after the crisis began at the Fukushima nuclear power plant last month.

During bilateral and trilateral meetings with Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jonh Hoon, Kaieda called for the use of measures based on scientific fact.

According to Kaieda, the two ministers responded that their first priority is public safety and their current measures are based on scientific views. They did not mention anything about reviewing the restrictions, Kaieda said.

The radiation leak at the Fukushima No. 1 plant prompted Beijing to ban imports of all food, agricultural and fishery products from the prefectures around Fukushima, including Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Niigata, Chiba, Saitama, Yamanashi and Tokyo.

Meanwhile, South Korea is set to require that Japan issue certificates of safety for food products from Fukushima and surrounding areas, including Tokyo.

At the eighth economic and trade ministers' meeting involving Japan, China and South Korea held at a Tokyo hotel, Kaieda also explained the situation at Fukushima to his counterparts and asked them for their understanding over why Japan decided to dump tons of water tainted with low-level radiation into the sea, Kaieda said.

"I told them that this Fukushima accident is regrettable, and as for dumping the low-level radioactive water into the sea, there was no alternative but to do so," he said, saying the tanks had to be emptied to make room for more toxic water from the plant.



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