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EU Lifts Import Restrictions on Japanese Food Products.
On August 3rd, the European Union (EU) lifted import restrictions on food products from Japan.
The 27 member states will no longer require radioactive material inspection certificates for water products and wild vegetables produced in Fukushima Prefecture.
Norway and Switzerland, although not EU members, will also lift their restrictions within the month.
Previously, the EU had imposed specific categories of restrictions on products from ten Japanese prefectures, including certain fish and wild mushroom species from Fukushima, and bamboo shoots from Miyagi Prefecture, demanding exporters to provide inspection certificates. Products from other prefectures also required proof of production outside the restricted areas.
The complex procedures and time-consuming requirements had been a source of frustration for Japanese export companies.
With the removal of these restrictions, business opportunities for Japanese food products are expected to expand in Europe.
According to Japanese government sources, following the EU’s decision, Norway and Iceland will also lift their restrictions on August 3rd. On August 15th, Switzerland and Liechtenstein will follow suit.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011, up to 55 countries and regions had implemented import restrictions on Japanese food products.
However, due to Japan’s requests, the United States had already lifted its restrictions in 2021. With the EU’s move, the number of countries and regions implementing import restrictions on Japanese food products will reduce from around 12 to 7.
Japan sees the EU’s decision as a basis for convincing mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Russia to lift their ongoing restrictions.
Japan is currently exploring the possibility of using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to treat and discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean, but coordination on this matter may face challenges.
In terms of EU exports, larger economies like France account for a significant portion. With the EU lifting restrictions, Japan intends to promote its products to other member countries.
In 2022, mainland China was the top destination for Japanese agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and food exports in terms of value, followed by Hong Kong and the United States.
Taiwan and Vietnam came next, with the EU ranking sixth. The Japanese government believes that health-conscious European consumers with higher income levels represent substantial potential demand.
The Agricultural and Fisheries Section of the EU Delegation to Japan, represented by Senior Official Uetake Satoshi, expressed confidence, saying, “There are many untapped markets in the 27 member countries, including Northern and Eastern Europe. We hope to strengthen exports to the EU and achieve positive results.”
Following this decision, the Japanese government’s representative office in Brussels will hold a meeting with relevant EU officials in September to create opportunities for direct promotion of Fukushima and other regional specialties.
Japan also plans to expand efforts to promote exports to Europe. They are considering establishing an “Export Support Platform” in Brussels, consisting of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
While the US, China, Singapore, and Thailand already have such platforms, Europe currently only has one in Paris.
Brussels is the location of the European Commission’s headquarters, where government officials from all EU member states gather. Japan aims to establish a support system in Brussels to continuously assist Japanese businesses in selling their products.
However, China and Hong Kong, which are significant trading partners for Japan, have strengthened their import restrictions, and trade has not yet fully resumed to normal.
China is now conducting radiation tests on all imported seafood products from Japan, previously limited to a few samples, causing delays in the clearance of fresh fish and other items.
Moreover, on July 12th, the Hong Kong government announced a ban on water product imports from ten Japanese prefectures, coinciding with the regions banned by mainland China. Hong Kong had gradually relaxed restrictions in the past but is now aligning its approach with mainland China, leaning towards a more assertive stance.
(source:internet, reference only)