The European Union agreed on Thursday to remove restrictions on Japanese food imports, imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, with the hope that Japan will ease its controls on EU farm produce.
The EU has required pre-export testing of food products for radioactivity since an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant on Japan’s east coast.
Since 2021, it has required certificates showing levels of radioactive isotopes in wild mushrooms, some fish species and edible wild plants, such as bamboo shoots, from Fukushima and nine other prefectures.
The European Commission said these restrictions had been fully lifted, while noting Japan continued to monitor for radioactivity and stressing Japan should publish its findings.
“This move will help drive forward the reconstruction of the devastated areas and is one we appreciate and welcome,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a press conference after an EU-Japan summit.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said both sides had also agreed to work on removing Japanese trade barriers to EU beef, fruit and vegetables, whose access to Japan is limited by food safety rules.
Kishida said Japan would make a judgment based on science, as the EU had done in lifting its restrictions.
At the summit, the EU and Japan also committed to deeper cooperation in green and digital transitions, research and other fields.
“We both need to de-risk our supply chains so one of our objectives is to reduce over reliance on a handful of suppliers, many of them based in China,” von der Leyen said, adding cooperation would include critical raw materials.
The European Union and Japan already have a free trade agreement and are united in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.