The UK will allow food imports from the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima starting on Wednesday, The Guardian has reported, citing Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This lifts the restrictions placed on deliveries from the region after a major accident at a local nuclear power plant in 2011.
“I’m delighted that tomorrow – finally – we are able to have Fukushima-origin products all over the shops in the UK,” Johnson said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Germany on Tuesday.
UK banned imports from Fukushima eleven years ago following the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, when a plant in the region suffered a triple nuclear meltdown.
However, the restrictions have been gradually lifted since then. The removal of the remaining measures will reportedly affect 23 products, including mushrooms. According to The Guardian, major UK supermarket chains Tesco and Waitrose said they don’t plan to sell food from Fukushima, but it reportedly will be sold at Japanese restaurants and Japanese stores in England, Scotland and Wales.
Northern Ireland, which is subject to European Union rules on produce from Fukushima, will keep the restrictions in place.
Following the catastrophe, Fukushima authorities claimed to have strengthened their food safety standards to be the strictest in the world. In response to Johnson’s announcement, Tokyo said it “welcomes the fact that the UK government reached this decision based on scientific evidence, as it will support the reconstruction of the affected areas.”
Other countries are not so keen to import food from the area: China, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan maintain import restrictions on Fukushima produce. The UK, meanwhile, is in the grips of a cost-of-living crisis driven by a spike in food and fuel prices. According to a recent survey by the UK Office for National Statistics, roughly half of the country’s population has been cutting back on grocery shopping to save money.
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