Senior Japanese official visits Taiwan to promote tourism

Taipei--Japan's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama arrived in Taiwan Saturday on a one-day visit to promote his country's tourism.

Akama is the highest ranking Japanese official to visit Taiwan since 1972, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties after Tokyo switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, but he reportedly said there were "no arrangements" for him to meet with Taiwanese officials on the trip.

Shortly after his arrival in Taiwan, Akama chaired the opening of a two-day Japanese tourism fair at Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei.

Dubbed "Colorful Japan," the fair was organized by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties.

In his address at the event, Akama said its aim was to showcase the different cultures in various regions of Japan and to inform Taiwanese about his country's attractions.

Taiwan and Japan are important partners, Akama said, expressing thanks for Taiwan's assistance to Japan in the wake of devastating earthquakes in 2011 and 2016.

Akama said he hoped that Taiwan would soon allow the importation of products from Fukushima Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas in the 2011 earthquake, as the reconstruction work there has been completed and its products have tested safe and back on store shelves in Japan.

Later, in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the event, he repeated that statement but said he was aware of the diverse opinions of the Taiwanese public on the issue of food imports from disaster-affected areas.

Food imports from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba have been suspended in Taiwan since March 25, 2011 because of fears of radioactive contamination in those areas from a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the massive earthquake and tsunami there on March 11, 2011.

Since May 15, 2015, importers of Japanese food products have been required to present certificates to prove that their imports did not originate from any of the five prefectures.

After President Tsai Ing-wen (???) assumed office in 2016, her administration began to mull a plan to lift the ban in two phases, seeking to retain the ban on Fukushima and allow imports from Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures on condition of batch-by-batch inspection.

But the plan was met with strong public opposition on concerns of food safety, forcing the Tsai administration to put the proposal on hold and organize public hearings to solicit opinions from different sectors of the society.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel