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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid