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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid