Japan says its food safe despite nuclear crisis

Other News Materials 9 April 2011 19:47 (UTC +04:00)

Japan on Saturday rejected an Indonesian request for it to certify that its exports are radiation-free, saying its food is safe despite the nuclear crisis, dpa reported.

"The Japanese government and local governments are every day monitoring the level of radioactivity in vegetables, fruit and agricultural products," Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Satoru Satoh, said in Jakarta.

"The level of radioactivity remains low by Japanese standards, and the Japanese standard is very strict in this sense," he said.

Japan officials also argued that certifying export products as radiation-free was impractical and that the country had already issued certification with products to indicate their origin.

The comments were made on the sidelines of a meeting between Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and his counterparts from the Association of the South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The meeting was called to discuss aid to Japan in the wake of last month's tsunami and earthquake disaster, which crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, knocking out its cooling functions, leading to fires, blasts and radiation leaks.

Prior to Saturday's meeting Indonesia's Health Ministry had said it would only quarantine products from Japan that were not certified to be radioactive free.

During their meeting with Matsumoto, ASEAN foreign ministers asked the ASEAN Secretariat to coordinate the bloc's assistance for the relief and recovery efforts in Japan.

The ministers "recall Japan's unwavering support of ASEAN member states when natural disaster struck and underscore the firm commitment ... to support the relief, recovery and reconstruction process in Japan," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who acted as the meeting's chair, said.

The ministers also vowed to promote future ASEAN-Japan cooperation in disaster management, including conducting training and capacity- building programmes for disaster preparedness, the meeting's common statement said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the meeting was also aimed at showing solidarity with Japan, a major donor and investor in Asia.

"We in ASEAN know that every time we are struck by a disaster, the government and the people of Japan stand ready to help," he said.

"Therefore, it is now time for ASEAN to express our solidarity and help the people of Japan, even though we all know Japan is at the forefront of disaster preparedness."

The statement appreciated Japan's pledge to provide maximum transparency in dealing with the nuclear accident.

The ministers also "supported Japan's resolve to take a leadership role in the international undertakings to improve the safety of nuclear power plants, and its willingness to share experiences learned from the accident."