Kuwait lifts import control on Japanese food, 1st among 6 Persian Gulf countries

Kuwait has lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, including from Fukushima Prefecture, imposed after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. It was the first such action among the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Building on the Kuwaiti case, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Foreign Ministry and other relevant government departments are poised to step up efforts to have import restrictions removed in other Middle East countries. According to the farm ministry, Kuwait took the action in the belief that the safety of food in Fukushima has been adequately secured after the lapse of five years since the nuclear disaster. The country suspended all food imports from Japan in April 2011. Kuwait resumed food imports from Japan in September 2012 on condition that all food products be subject to tests for radioactive substances. The country’s food imports primarily comprise soft drinks, sauce and mixed seasonings, and marine products such as tuna and bonito. Its food imports from Japan totaled 170 million yen in 2015, up 40% from the previous year. Interest in Japanese fruit is growing in the country, particularly among the wealthy class. The farm ministry expects demand to rise for Fukushima fruit such as peaches and pears following the removal of import restrictions. (Translated by Kyodo News)