MAN OF SCIENCE: Frank Hsieh said politics should not determine whether food products can be imported, they should be tested for radiation
Staff writer, with CNA, TOKYO
Taiwan should prohibit imports of Japanese food products contaminated with radiation, but allow imports of food free of radiation, Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said on Sunday.
Hsieh made the comment on Facebook while flying back to Japan after returning to Taiwan to report to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on his work last month.
Taiwan imposed a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster due to concerns over possible radioactive contamination.
For the sake of public health, Taiwan should not allow imports of Japanese food that could be contaminated by radiation leaking from the nuclear power plant, Hsieh said.
However, he added that imports of radiation-free food should be permitted in line with international rules of free trade.
Whether food products contain trace levels of radiation should be determined by scientific testing, not politics or a majority of the public, Hsieh said.
There has been much speculation in the media about whether Taiwan’s ban on Japanese food products could affect the nation’s chances of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a fledgling Pacific trade pact led by Japan.
Asked about the issue, Hsieh said that if there is no scientific justification for the ban on food imports from the five Japanese prefectures, it could fuel opposition to Taiwan’s participation in the trade pact.
Taiwan’s exclusion from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the biggest regional trade agreement ever, established by China and 14 other countries last month, places its exporters at a disadvantage in terms of international competition, so it is increasingly important for the nation to join the CPTPP, Hsieh said.
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