The question of food imports is crucial for relations with Japan (academic)

  • By Yang Cheng-yu and William Hetherington / Journalist, with editor

The easing of restrictions on food imports from five Japanese prefectures is crucial for the development of Taiwan’s relations with Japan, a researcher told lawmakers in the Taipei Legislature on Friday.

The best time to ease restrictions would be the first semester of this year to prevent the issue from being politicized in this year’s local elections, said Kuo Yu-jen (郭育仁) political science professor at the National University. Sun Yat-sen.

Imports of food from the five prefectures – which were banned after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 – would not represent a large market share and would not be priced as competitively as domestic products, said Kuo.

“The referendum period is over. The government should manage this rationally and scientifically now, rather than letting it get bogged down in political manipulation later, ”he said.

Only Taiwan, South Korea and China ban food products from the five prefectures, implying that there is little scientific basis for it, he said, adding that not lifting the ban could affect Taiwan’s efforts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. .

Later, Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Shih-ying (蔡 適應) said Taiwan needed two more representative offices in Japan.

Taiwan has offices in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Fukuoka, Naha and Sapporo, but parts of Japan do not have an office, which is necessary for consular services, Tsai said.

Tsai compared Taiwan’s representation in Japan with that of South Korea, where the country has 10 representative offices.

Offices are not sufficiently dispersed and people in need of consular services in Japan’s Chugoku and Shikoku regions do not have a practical option, he said.

Establishing offices in the cities of Hiroshima and Sendai would solve the problem, he said.

Kuo said building more offices in Japan would be beneficial for the relationship, as some pro-Taiwan officials in Japan represent regions in which Taiwan has no representation.

For example, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida previously represented Hiroshima as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, Kuo said.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳 釗 燮) said the ministry had discussed the possibility of adding offices in Japan, but had not finalized any plans.

The ministry’s resources are limited and it must establish offices where they will have the greatest strategic value, Wu said.

Given the good state of relations between Taiwan and Japan, there is no need to establish more representative offices there, he said.

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