By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Philippines has lifted the restrictions it imposed on the importation of agricultural and other food products coming from areas affected by the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 almost a year since the Japanese government made such request.
The ban, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, is meaningless anyway.
“I consider the ban, issued by the previous administration, as just a bureaucratic gobbledygook and an overreaction to an issue which did not really affect the Philippines,” Piñol said.
“It was a ridiculous bureaucratic exercise for the simple reason the fish species included in the ban are not imported by the Philippines anyway,” he added.
The lifting of the seven-year old ban on the importation of several fish species from Fukushima Prefecture is the Philippine government’s “gesture of goodwill” during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members to Japan this week.
It was June last year when Japanese government began seeking Philippines’ approval to lift such restrictions.
In 2011, a nuclear disaster happened in Fukushima following an earthquake-borne tsunami in the eastern coast of Japan.
This triggered several countries, including the Philippines, to impose restrictions on agricultural and other food products from areas near the Fukushima power plant. But as Japan conducted massive cleanup efforts and decontamination, some countries like the ones in the European Union already eased the restrictions.
Piñol said that the latest order lifting the importation ban will be officially presented to Japanese Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Yoshikawa Takamori this week.
The lifting of the ban covers species such as Cherry Salmon, Sand Lance, Japanese Dace, and Ayu.
“With this move, the Duterte Administration is showing goodwill to the Japanese government as it moves to promote the entry of more Philippine agriculture products to tje Philippines,” Piñol said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is also seeking a lower tariff for bananas and pineapples that the country export in Japan, something the Department of Agriculture (DA) hopes to be able to discuss with its Japanese counterpart soon.
The Duterte administration also wants to penetrate the Japanese market for hash avocado.