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

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora