By Roy Mabasa
The Japanese government is asking the Philippines to lift the restrictions it imposed on the importation of agricultural and other food products coming from areas affected by the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and in charge of promoting the export of Japanese agricultural products, relayed this message to the Philippine government during a three-day official visit in Manila last week.
In his meeting with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, Miyakoshi noted that the European Union has already lifted some regulations on certain products that include agricultural and fisheries, “based on comprehensive scientific data and analyses.”
Citing the increasing demand for consumption of Japanese products in the country, the government of Japan is eyeing a total of JY1 trillion (PhP47 billion) annual exports to the Philippines until the end of 2019.
In a statement, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said both the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) are working on several policies related to export promotion in order to facilitate the freer flow of Japanese products to the Philippines.
At the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila last November, Prime Minister Abe also asked the countries in the region to consider accepting imports of food from the affected areas, noting that sufficient time had passed since the earthquake and the food are widely considered safe.
In the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear incident triggered by the earthquake-borne tsunami in the eastern coast of Japan, many countries, including the Philippines, introduced restrictions on agricultural and other food products from areas near the Fukushima power plant.
Some countries and regions have since then eased the restrictions following widespread clean-up and decontamination conducted by Japan.
Alongside with the discussion on the lifting of restrictions of products from Fukushima and nearby prefectures, Miyakoshi also discussed with Pinol the updates on rice production and harvest in the Philippines and Japan, as well as the possible infusion of Japanese development assistance in these areas.
Miyakoshi, together with Ambassador Koji Haneda, also held a meeting with representatives of Japanese companies doing business in the Philippines to discuss ways to further promote exports of Japanese agricultural products.
“Miyakoshi underscored the importance of this matter to Japan, and that the Japanese Government is now exerting its best efforts to increase export in the nearest future,” the Embassy said in the statement.