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Japan asks Brazil to ease food import rules

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 16, 2011
Japan's foreign minister on Saturday asked his visiting Brazilian counterpart to ease import restrictions placed on Japanese food in the wake of a nuclear crisis sparked by a huge earthquake and tsunami.

Brazil, which has the world's largest population of Japanese descent outside Japan, has asked for all food imports from the quake-hit country to be accompanied by certificates proving they are safe to eat.

It is among a number of countries to restrict Japanese food imports after a series of explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on the country's northeast coast caused radiation to spew into the air and sea.

Japan's Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said that no food products contaminated by radiation released from a quake-damaged nuclear plant were being exported, and asked Brazil to reconsider.

Visiting Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said his country would "consider the possibility of changing or scrapping" the restrictions.

Brazil has a century-long trade history with Japan, prompted by the arrival of large numbers of Japanese immigrants who worked as agricultural labourers in the Latin American country, now a major consumer of Japanese products.

It has the world's largest ethnic Japanese community outside Japan, estimated to number about 1.5 million.

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