Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata on Tuesday expressed his country’s regret that a referendum proposal on whether to keep a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures was accepted by the Central Election Committee.
The referendum asks whether the government should maintain the ban on imports of agricultural products and food from areas affected by the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster on March 11, 2011.
The ban, which was implemented on March 25 of that year, covers Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.
The referendum, which was proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), is to be voted on alongside the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24.
In a statement released by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in Taipei, Numata said he was disappointed that the food import issue has been used as a political tool, but added that his feelings for Taiwan have not changed.
More than 4.5 million Taiwanese visit Japan every year, and they enjoy food that includes ingredients from Fukushima, Numata said.
“If certain ingredients were found to be unsafe, they would not be sold in Japan,” he added.
Food imports should be subject to controls based on scientific evidence and professional judgement, but they are instead being used for political purposes, Numata said.
He said his mission is to prevent the KMT’s efforts to undermine the friendly relations Taiwan and Japan have been working hard to cultivate, adding that he hopes that Taiwanese will make a rational choice.