12 December, 2018
Fukushima Governor to Visit Hong Kong in January to Dispel Fears and Misinformation
At a regular press briefing on December 3, Governor Masao Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture announced that he would visit Hong Kong from January 24 to 26 next year to personally help eradicate ungrounded fears and misinformation on agricultural, forestry and marine products from the prefecture.
Showing his concern at the briefing, the governor said, “Before the massive earthquake of March 2011, exports to Hong Kong accounted for approximately eighty percent of the prefecture’s total exports. The continued prohibition of imports of vegetables and fruits produced in the prefecture shows the tenacious effects of unfounded fears and misinformation.” He then explained the purpose of his trip to Hong Kong.
Governor Uchibori said that he would first visit the offices of the Hong Kong government to express his gratitude for its considerate support after the disaster, and would use the occasion to enhance its understanding of the safety of agricultural, forestry and marine products from Fukushima prefecture.
He then said that a seminar would also be held for local mass media, presenting the prefecture’s activities on food safety and assurance, and highlighting the appeal of products from the prefecture. Overall, he wants to enhance understanding on Fukushima.
In July, Hong Kong eased import restrictions on vegetables and fruits from four prefectures—Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba—while maintaining them on products from Fukushima alone. Nevertheless, in terms of the value of exports of agricultural and marine products and food from Japan, broken down by country and region, Hong Kong remains solidly in first place.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the value of exports to Hong Kong from Japan was JPY151.5 billion (USD1.3 billion at USD1=JPY113) in the first nine months of 2018, substantially more than the JPY95.4 billion (USD840 million) to second-place China.
Regarding the recent referendum in Taiwan resulting in continuing import restrictions on Japanese foods, Governor Uchibori showed his desire to steadily tackle that issue as well. “What the prefecture can do, while keeping an eye on responses from the Japanese government, is to disseminate accurate information on Fukushima now, to all countries and regions. It is important to do whatever we can, step by step,” he said.
The governor also talked about the December 1 (New York time) opening of a Japanese sake “antenna shop” in Manhattan. Named the “Fukushima Sake Challenge Shop,” it will operate until March 2019.
“The United States,” he said, “is the largest export market for Fukushima-produced sake. The prefecture will try to enhance recognition of Fukushima sake—that is, make it a brand—and stimulate local sake brewers to take up the challenge,” hoping that this will create momentum toward expanding the market in the future.