Taiwan announced on Tuesday that it will lift the ban on imported food from prefectures around the Japanese city of Fukushima that were put in place after the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster.
The Pacific island is hoping to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a large trading bloc of which Japan is a member. The lifting of the ban could ease Taiwan's entry into the bloc.
What Taiwan said about lifting the Fukushima food ban
Taiwan's cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said that it was following other countries such as Australia, the US and Thailand who have already lifted restrictions.
"To join the international economic and trade system, to join the high-standard CPTPP, one cannot stand on the outside and be stuck in old ways or ignore scientific evidence," he said.
The lifting of the ban will likely take place in late February, according to Lo.
The move was not part of a deal with Japan for entry into the CPTPP. Tokyo has already expressed its support.
But Lo admitted that he thought the move would help.
Some foodstuffs will remain banned, such as mushrooms and wild animals. Other products will need to have been tested for radiation before entering. They will be tested again on arrival.
Taiwanese residents voted in 2018 overwhelmingly to uphold the ban but this was only valid for two years. The main opposition party, the Kuomintang, slammed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party saying no government could "tear up" the referendum result.
How is Taiwan's CPTPP application progressing?
Taiwan asked to join the CPTPP in September last year, around the same time as neighboring China.
Beijing considers the island to be a part of China and has aimed to isolate it on the world stage, including opposing Taiwan's entry into the trading pact.
The island's chief trade negotiator John Deng said their application was going "smoothly" but that the current focus is on the application from the UK.
ab/rt (dpa, Reuters)