Taiwan authorities make public pay for their political ends, experts say, after detection of 'nuclear food'
Published: Sep 17, 2022 02:04 AM
Activists take part in an anti-nuclear protest outside the Parliament building in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster this March 11. Photo: AFP

Activists take part in an anti-nuclear protest outside the Parliament building in Tokyo, Japan on March 7, 2021, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. File Photo: AFP

Authorities in Taiwan recently detected radioactive substances in a batch of konjaku jelly powder imported from Gunma prefecture, one of the five prefectures in Japan around the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Although the amount is within local security limits, the issue stirred up public concerns over security of the so-called "nuclear food" and demonstrated again that Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority is sacrificing the people's interests for their political ends.

It is reportedly the first time the Taiwan authorities have detected radioactive substances in imported "nuclear food," as Taiwan residents call it, since the island in February relaxed a decade-long ban on imports of food from the five prefectures, according to local media reports.

According to media reports, the Taiwan authorities detected Caesium-137 in the batch of konjaku jelly powder and the amount is 4.8 becquerels per kilogram; the standard for the substance is 100 becquerels per kilogram.

Although the amount is below the standard, the issue has still led to concerns among the public, given the opposition to the DPP authority's decision to lift the "nuclear food" ban. The Taiwan authorities also said that they were negotiating with related merchants to return the batch of food or destroy it, media reports said.

Food containing even small amounts of radioactive substances can pose a threat to public health if taken for a long period, said Zhang Yanqiang, director of the Institute of Bohai and Yellow Sea Studies at Dalian Maritime University.

According to media reports, Caesium-137 is a radioactive substance that can be deposited in soft tissues in the human body such as muscles, bones and fat. It can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Politicians in the island also raised questions over the frequency of Taiwan authorities' detection of the imported "nuclear food."

A local politician named Huang Hsin-hua told the media that he thoroughly went through some detection materials related to Japanese food in the past two years and found that a high amount of radioactive substances had been detected even in some food imported from places other than the five prefectures affected by the 2011 accident.

This indicates two problems. First, the place of origin of some imported Japanese food may be faked to avoid being detected, which the authorities should keep alert about. Second, the authorities' frequency of detecting Japanese food is not high enough, Huang told the media.

The safest option is to totally ban such food, but the Taiwan authorities would not do so due to their pro-Japan political stance, Zhang told the Global Times on Friday.

The Taiwan authorities would at most deny or destroy the batches after detecting radioactive substances. It is people in the island who are paying for the Taiwan authorities' political ends, according to Zhang.