Japan’s farm minister meets Hong Kong leader on import bans

HONG KONG, Aug. 17 — Japan’s Agriculture Minister Ken Saito has met Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her key officials, urging them to lift a ban on Japanese food imports imposed after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in 2011.

In the Aug. 16 meeting with the Hong Kong’s leader, Saito explained that extensive monitoring has ensured that exported foods are within radionuclide concentration limits.

He asked Lam to ease and lift the import ban based on the scientific evidence Japan has. He also persuaded her to make a State visit to Japan.

Hong Kong is the largest export market for Japanese seafood and agriculture products, making up a quarter of the total value of exports.

Yet, the ban has remained in place on food imports including vegetables, fruits and milk powder from five Japanese prefectures affected by the accident: Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba.

Saito also met Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan, when he made a 3-day visit to Honk Kong that ended Aug. 17.

He was to attend Hong Kong’s annual Food Expo, Asia’s largest and popular food exhibition, featuring more than 1,500 exhibitors from 26 countries, including Japan.

The Japan pavilion features a variety of products, such as seafood, wagyu beef and Japanese green tea.

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