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.