EU experts agree to relax Fukushima-made rice restrictions

TOKYO, Sept. 27 — European food safety experts have approved the relaxation of food import restrictions from Japanese regions hit by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

That will likely pave the way for the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, to allow some Japanese agriculture products, including Fukushima-made rice, to enter the bloc without radiation testing certification.

On Sept. 25, the EU standing committee on food safety approved a proposal by the commission to remove radiation testing certification on some foods from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant areas, before they are granted access into European markets.

Currently, food imports from the regions need to be accompanied by a certificate attesting that the product does not contain radionuclide that exceeds the EU’s maximum permitted levels, before leaving Japan.

The EU experts’ approval comes at a time when Tokyo and Brussels in July secured a new trade agreement in principle, which would open up the Japanese market to key EU farm exports. Both hope to conclude the deal by the end of 2017.

The European Parliament, however, recently passed a resolution that rejects the commission’s proposal, warning European consumers could be exposed to radioactive contaminated food if mandatory radiation checks are removed.

The parliament’s resolution has no legal binding.

The commission is expected to make a final decision as early as October on the deregulation move.

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