Canada this week lifted all import restrictions on Japanese foods, which were imposed on April 1 in the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency lifted the restriction Monday, saying that all products tested were far below radiation limits, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Tuesday.
The Fukushima No.1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was ravaged by the catastrophic March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It has suffered fires and explosions, leaking radiation.
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Amid fears of radioactive contamination, about 40 foreign countries and regions imposed import restrictions on Japanese foods. Canada became the first country to lift all import restrictions, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
Japan's exports of farm and fishery products to Canada totaled about 4.6 billion yen ($57.5 million) in 2010.
The CFIA demanded test results verifying the safety of all food products imported from Fukushima and 11 neighboring prefectures -- Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Niigata, Yamanashi and Nagano.
As for the other 35 Japanese prefectures, the CFIA demanded certificates proving the origin of all food products.
Japan, the world's largest net food importer, has been revving up its food export drive in recent years. But the import restrictions imposed by about 40 countries and regions have dealt a serious blow to Japanese food shipments.
According to figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan’s exports of agricultural, fishery and forestry products plunged 14.7 percent in April from a year earlier to $470.0 million.
Agricultural products, including processed foods, livestock products, grain, vegetables and fruits, nose-dived 18.5 percent to $267.5 million, while fishery products sank 11.7 percent to $187.5 million.
Hong Kong was the largest export destination for Japanese agricultural, fishery and forestry products in April, followed by the U.S. and South Korea. Japan’s U.S.-bound shipments totaled $76.3 million in April, down 3.3 percent from a year earlier.