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September 26, 2017

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Hundreds protest Fukushima imports

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hundreds on Thursday called for the president and premier to resign, accusing the ruling party of "selling out Taiwan" and "poisoning our children" in its push to ease a ban on food imports from Japan's radiation-affected regions.

Protesters organized by the Kuomintang (KMT) demonstrated in front of the Executive Yuan early Thursday, as party councilors from across the country took turns addressing the crowd.

"We are humans, and humans don't eat radiation-contaminated food," the crowd chanted with Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介), who accused that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of betraying its promise to safeguard Taiwan's food safety.

"We all remember clearly which party strongly protested against nuclear power in the past, but who's about to feed poisonous food to our children now!" Hsieh said.

Taipei City Councilor Wang Hsin-yi (王欣儀) said the protest was not about political issues but was instead "a matter of life and death."

Taipei City Councilor Ying Hsiao-wei (應曉薇) introduced a 3-year-old girl carried by an elderly woman, and urged the crowd to "fight the government to defend public health."

Clash with Police

Hsieh asked police officers to "give way" to protesters so they could enter the Executive Yuan and submit their petition to the premier.

When the police stood their ground, demonstrators attempted to storm the grounds.

The clash ended after Hsu Fu (許輔), director of the Cabinet's food safety office, stepped outside the Executive Yuan to receive the protesters' petition and then invited KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) and Chen Yi-ming (陳宜民) into the building for talks.

'No contaminated food'

"No radiation-contaminated food products will be allowed into the nation," according to a Cabinet press statement released Friday afternoon.

The Cabinet stated that it would take protesters' concerns into account and reinstate its "four-noes policy" on Japanese food imports.

It said all products from the Fukushima Prefecture would continue to be prohibited from entering Taiwan's borders.

Food products from Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba — four of the five prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster — that are at high risk of absorbing radiation would also remain banned.

Those with a lower risk of radiation contamination would also stay banned if they did not have a certificate confirming state of origin and radiation levels.

Food products still banned by the U.S. and the Japanese government would also remain banned from Taiwan.

An earthquake and tsunami had triggered meltdowns of nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011.

Dozens of countries worldwide imposed sanctions or tightened restrictions on food imports produced in the regions around Fukushima Prefecture.

Starting 2015, the European Union and the U.S. gradually lifted the bans as Tokyo continued to urge the move on grounds of fair international trade.

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