From Japan Times, citing Jiji Tsushin News (10/24/2012):
BRUSSELS — The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it will relax regulations on imports of Japanese food starting Nov. 1.
The regulations were introduced in the wake of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
During an interview in July, Maria Damanaki, EU commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, expressed the commission's willingness to loosen the restrictions, saying the danger of Japanese seafood "is around zero."
The commission plans to reduce the frequency of sampling tests of Japanese food to 5 percent of import volume for all items from at least 5 to 10 percent.
The EU has required Tokyo and 11 other prefectures across the nation to conduct tests on food before exports are shipped. It plans to limit the regulation to certain items about which safety concerns remain, including tea leaves and some kinds of mushrooms, for the 12 prefectures with the exception of Fukushima.
Yomiuri Shinbun (10/22/2012) has a bit more details as to what food items and which prefectures:
Agricultural products imported to the EU from Japan which no longer require certificates: all food items and animal feeds except for 8 items including tea leaves and mushrooms
Prefectures to which the EU's new rule applies: Tokyo, Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Iwate, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa
I guess the EU does not know or chooses not to know that vegetables, meat, fish produced or caught in locations in Iwate, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Chiba are being found with radioactive cesium exceeding the 100 Bq/kg safety limit of Japan or very close to it, and it is not last year but this year. However, since the EU import so little food supply from Japan anyway (9,000 tonnes from all Japan in 2010, says the EU), I suppose it is acceptable to the technocrats at the EU.
So, what are the 8 food items that the EU still requires the certificates? Let's check the Delegation of the European Union to Japan site. It has this news, dated October 22, 2012:
Food safety: Commission reviews measures on imports from Japan
EU News 501/2012
22 October 2012
Experts meeting in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) endorsed a Commission proposal to revise rules on import conditions of food and feed originating from Japan following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Existing restrictions for food and feed imports coming from the prefecture Fukushima are maintained whereas control measures have been eased for several other prefectures. For the prefecture Fukushima, the existing measures applying to all food and feed, with the exception of alcoholic beverages, are maintained until 31 March 2014. Based on over 40,000 samples of products harvested in the second growing season after the nuclear accident, the restrictive measures in place have been eased for 11 prefectures (Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Iwate, Chiba and Kanagawa). An interim review is foreseen before 31 March 2013 for crops where samples of products for the second growing season (March-November) were not available in time for this review. For the control at import, a reduction of the frequency of controls to 5% will apply. Based on the monitoring results from the 2013 growing season, it is foreseen to undertake a review of these measures shortly before 31 March 2014. The measures will be published at the end of this month following the adoption of the proposal by the Commission and are foreseen to enter into force on 1 November 2012.
Well, we're no wiser. There is no mention of 8 food items, and I have little enthusiasm in delving into the EU press releases from last year. Maybe that's the wishful thinking of Yomiuri.
I did check the EU's statement from March 24, 2011, and I had to laugh at this passage near the end of the statement:
According to the latest information, the Japanese authorities have taken the necessary measures to ensure that food (and drinking water) testing above their established acceptable levels of radio-activity is neither sold to the Japanese public nor exported.
Well it was sold to the Japanese public. Yokohama City was busy last year feeding school children with radioactive beef because the business-minded mayor of Yokohama couldn't pass up a bargain of buying premier domestic beef at a discount. As for exports, the French authorities caught green tea from Shizuoka that had over 1,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. This year, green tea from Tochigi was found with 24 becquerels/kg of cesium, AFTER it was brewed, indicating the dried tea may have had 100 times that.
Trivial details, for the political class.