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Firms rebut TV report saying Japanese food from banned areas sold in China

A China Central Television (CCTV) report stating that banned Japanese food products from eastern Japan were being sold in China has stirred controversy, as it contained inaccuracies.

    Supporters of Japanese products in China have criticized the recent report, saying that the safety of Chinese food products is more of an issue.

    In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the Chinese government banned the import of Japanese food items produced in 10 Japanese prefectures including Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Chiba and Tokyo. On Jan. 15 this year, CCTV reported that food products from "contaminated regions" were being sold with altered production area labels by retailers including Japanese-operated Muji and Aeon.

    However, according to Muji operator Ryohin Keikaku Co., tea and sweets appearing in the report were produced in Fukui Prefecture and Osaka Prefecture, respectively. The company said that the products listed the address of the retailer's Tokyo headquarters and that it was possible CCTV had mistakenly assumed that Tokyo was where the products were manufactured.

    Aeon's Chinese operator temporarily removed products for an inspection, but on March 17 it released a statement saying that the packs of rice in question were not from a banned area.

    Inspection authorities in Beijing and Shanghai announced that they had not found any products from banned areas. One official with a Japan-related business said the CCTV report "gives the strong impression that it is conveying the Chinese government's position." It has been conjectured that as the popularity of Japan grows, the Chinese government wants to draw consumers back to domestic consumption.

    The Japanese government has made repeated requests for China to lift its import ban.

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