The United States lifted all restrictions on imports of Japanese food products while the European Union will ease similar rules imposed after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on Sept. 22 said at a news conference that he “welcomes the U.S. decision made on the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which will further show the reconstruction of disaster-stricken areas to the international community.”
The decision in the United States on Sept. 21 reduces the number of countries and regions with such import restrictions to 14, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. The United States had taken incremental steps in lifting its bans on Japanese food products. The latest move removes the remaining 100 items, produced in 14 prefectures, from the restriction list. They included rice, mushrooms, edible wild plants and leafy vegetables produced in Fukushima Prefecture, as well as shiitake mushrooms grown on raw wood in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. The EU announced on Sept. 20 that it will ease import restrictions on mushrooms grown in Japan starting on Oct. 10.
According to the agriculture ministry, Japanese officials had explained to their U.S. counterparts the thoroughness of the domestic food inspection system and how it ensures the safety of the products.
Despite the previous restrictions, the United States imported 118.8 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in Japanese food, agricultural and marine products in 2020, the third largest of any country or region, following Hong Kong and China. The export value of the Japanese products to the EU in 2020 was 48.8 billion yen.