EU to relax restrictions on Fukushima rice imports

Jiji Press BRUSSELS (Jiji Press) — The European Union has decided to lift its restrictions on imports of some foods from 10 prefectures in Japan, such as rice grown in Fukushima, home to the country’s worst nuclear accident.

The partial lifting, decided by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will take effect on Dec. 1. The other nine prefectures are Akita, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba, Iwate, Nagano and Yamagata.

After the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, the EU required the submission of certification documents on radiation checks for some foods from a total of 13 prefectures, also including Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka.

Following the removal of the restrictions on Fukushima rice, it will become unnecessary in principle to prove that rice grown in other prefectures is not from Fukushima.

For Akita, the restrictions will be eliminated for wild vegetables. The prefecture will thus be fully exempted from the EU restrictions.

Some foods from the eight other prefectures will also be excluded from the certification requirement. In addition, some fisheries products from Fukushima, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Iwate, including crab, octopus, yellowtail, red seabream and bluefin tuna, will be removed from the list.

The move by the EU may prompt countries and regions that also introduced import restrictions on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident, mainly Asian nations, to consider reviewing their measures, analysts said.

Meanwhile, the current certification requirement will remain intact for products from Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka, including wild vegetables.

At a press conference on July 6 to announce a broad accord on an EU-Japan economic partnership agreement for free trade, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the import restrictions on some foods from Fukushima and other Japanese prefectures would be eased after this year’s summer holidays.Speech

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