Japan to ask WTO members not to 'overreact' on nuke crisis

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Geneva, Mar 28: Japan will ask World Trade Organization members not to ''overreact'' to the crisis surrounding the stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which has prompted import restrictions on some Japanese food products over fears of radioactive contamination, trade and diplomatic sources said.

The Japanese government delegates will make the request at an informal meeting of the WTO's Trade Negotiation Committee which convenes Tuesday, the first since the Mar 11 catastrophic earthquake and ensuing tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

Concerns over safety of Japanese farm and dairy products are spreading globally as radioactivity levels higher than the legal limit set by the Japanese government under the food sanitation law were detected in several kinds of vegetables and milk produced in Fukushima and its vicinity in the aftermath of the nuclear accident.

Countries including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Canada and Russia have placed restrictions on the imports of Japanese food products after the United States slapped an import ban on such dairy products and vegetables produced on farms contaminated by the crippled nuclear power complex, while some others said they would step up inspection of such products.

Japan is expected to ask the member countries and regions to abide by the WTO agreement which bans trade restriction not based on scientific grounds, telling them that Japan is taking strict measures such as shipment bans on agricultural and dairy products with radioactive levels above the limits so as to meet international requirements, the sources said.

Yoichi Otabe, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Permanent Delegation of Japan to International Organizations in Geneva, will explain to the meeting the stance of the Japanese government in order to prevent Japanese agriculture from being hit by harmful rumors, the sources added.

PTI (Kyodo)

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