News / Asia

Japan Tells ASEAN Its Food Exports are Safe

Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, second from left, Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, left, Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asia Nation (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto w
Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, second from left, Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, left, Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asia Nation (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto w
Angela Dewan

Japan has defended its food exports as healthy amid global fears that the country’s nuclear disaster has contaminated its dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Leaders of Southeast Asian nations met with Japanese officials in Indonesia to discuss support for the nation in crisis.

Japan has assured the world that its food exports do not contain dangerous levels of radioactive materials. As the number of countries imposing partial bans on Japanese food imports grows, Japan urges governments to act reasonably and not out of fear.

After a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged nuclear reactors in Japan’s northeast, Japan has for weeks struggled to contain radioactive materials within its nuclear plant in the Fukushima prefecture. Some foods produced in the area were found to be highly contaminated after the nuclear plant began leaking radioactive materials.

Speaking in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Saturday, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto told ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, that Japan had made great efforts to overcome its nuclear contamination problems.

Japan Foreign Ministry spokesman Satoru Satoh said that radioactive levels in Japan’s food had dropped significantly over the past few weeks and Japan’s food exports were safe to consume. "As a matter of fact, the level of radioactivity is reducing dramatically. Within one week after the earthquake, the level of radioactivity was very high, but since then radioactive materials in the soil, water and atmosphere have been reducing," he said.

The United States banned all dairy products and fruits and vegetables from four Japanese prefectures in late March. China had banned all food imports from five prefectures, and on Friday included a further seven prefectures in the ban. Canada, Russia, Australia, Singapore and others have followed suit.

The United States and a number of other countries, such as India and Indonesia, have requested that Japan certify its food exports as radioactive-free, but Japan says that would be a virtually impossible task.

Satoh said Japan would provide certification of origin to show which foods had been produced where, and share information about radioactive levels in the atmosphere, water and soil. "The important thing is that the Japanese government and local governments every day announce amounts detected in the atmosphere, food and water. I mean transparency is guaranteed in Japan on this issue," he said.

A plunge in food exports is just one of the many woes Japan has faced since the earthquake and tsunami struck.  Nearly 28,000 people are reported dead or missing from the disasters according to the National Police Agency of Japan which also says more than 150,000 people are living in temporary shelters.

The damage is estimated at between $190 and $295 billion according to the Japanese government.   Longer-term damage from the nuclear spill will be an additional cost and Japan is now facing a severe energy shortage.

Indonesia, as the world’s third-biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, reaffirmed it would increase gas exports to Japan and the nation’s coal industry has said it would be ready to do the same at Japan’s request.

Ministers of the10 Asean-member nations pledged their support for Japan on Saturday, acknowledging the need for greater regional support in disaster management.

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said he was pleased Asean-member countries could reciprocate support for Japan in its time of need. "All of us recognize that in the past Japan has been extremely effective, extremely generous in responding to disasters whenever they occur in our region in Southeast Asia," he said.

As a number of Southeast Asian nations plan to build nuclear plants to secure domestic energy supply, Japan has pledged to share its lessons learned with the region.

VOA originally identified the Japanese foreign ministry spokesman as Saturo Satoh.  The correct name is Satoru Satoh, which has been changed in the text. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs