Tensions escalate with Japan after Taiwan voters back ban on food imports (2018/11/30)

  • 2018-11-30
  • Yinung Chen

Last Saturday, Taiwan voted in favor of keeping a ban on food imports from areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A few days later, China just happened to announce a plan to lift its own ban on certain Japanese products. Beijing's announcement is putting pressure on the Tsai administration, as Taiwan tries to navigate its relationship with Japan. A Japanese representative says that if Taiwan does not lift the food ban, the two countries' relationship may pay the price.

Of all countries in the world, only Taiwan and China maintain a ban on the import of food products from areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In the wake of a Taiwan referendum backing the ban, China has announced that it will soon allow the import of rice from Niigata Prefecture.

Chao Tien-lin
DPP lawmaker
China has taken this approach to put us on the spot. After a series of talks, their relations with Japan have warmed. That’s why they have started allowing the import of a number of food products from areas affected by the nuclear disaster.

The annual Taiwan-Japan economic and trade conference concluded today with both countries signing five memorandums of understanding. During the meeting, the Japanese delegation said that China has loosened its ban to allow the import of Niigata rice. Japan said it hoped Taiwan would be able to resolve the issues with its own ban.

The chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Mitsuo Ohashi, voiced concern that not lifting the ban could impact Taiwan-Japan relations. The issue of nuclear-zone food imports has now become a tug of war between three players: Taiwan, Japan and China.