HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- The Hong Kong government announced Friday it is relaxing a seven-year-old ban on food imports from four Japanese prefectures imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to the government gazette.
Food items including vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and milk formula from the four prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma will be allowed to be imported to Hong Kong starting at noon next Tuesday.
Food imports from those prefectures will be allowed with a certificate attesting that the radiation levels do not exceed guideline levels and with an exporter certificate.
But the existing ban on food imports from Fukushima will stay in effect.
Three samples of vegetables imported from Chiba on March 23, 2011, showed radiation levels exceeding the guideline, prompting the government to impose the ban.
Since 2016, no samples were found to have any radiation contamination, according to a government paper.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, a special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both pushed for a lifting of the ban during separate visits to Hong Kong in recent months.
Hong Kong is the largest export destination for Japanese foodstuffs. Hong Kong Trade Development Council figures show that Japan's food exports to Hong Kong amounted to US$97 million in January, accounting for over 24 percent of such exports.
Currently, only China and Taiwan maintain a comprehensive ban on food imports from Japan's radiation-contaminated areas.