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Philippines lift restrictions on importing Fukushima food

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., left, exchanges notes with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi after their bilateral meeting in Manila, Philippines, on Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Basilio Sepe)

MANILA (Kyodo) -- Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Thursday his country has lifted restrictions on Japanese food imports imposed following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster due to a lower risk of radioactive contamination.

Locsin said during a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi in Manila that the Philippines had eliminated the need for radiation test results for shipments of some types of seafood and agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding areas on Wednesday.

"I look forward to safe Japanese food reaching many of the people of the Philippines," Motegi told a joint press briefing after the meeting.

The Southeast Asian country had required radiation testing of beef and vegetables from Fukushima and Ibaraki, as well as fishery products from the two prefectures along with Tochigi and Gunma following the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

A total of 54 countries and regions took such measures following the crisis. The announcement by the Philippines means the number has fallen to 20, with the United States, China and South Korea among countries maintaining restrictions of some kind, according to the farm ministry.

Motegi and Locsin also agreed to step up security cooperation, with an eye to countering China's militarization of artificial islands in disputed parts of the South China Sea, as well as economic cooperation, including infrastructure development.

Following the meeting, the two signed an agreement for Japan to provide a low-interest loan of up to 4.4 billion yen ($40 million) to reinforce major bridges in Manila.

Later in the day, Motegi paid a courtesy call on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and toured one of the 10 patrol ships supplied by Japan to the Philippine Coast Guard to protect nearby waters.

The Japanese foreign minister is on a weeklong tour of Southeast Asia that has taken him to Vietnam and Thailand, with a final stop in Indonesia on Friday.

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