China’s surprise application to the CPTPP, followed by Taiwan’s surprise application, has led to the two apparently competing to woo neighboring states.
In 2018, a referendum showed that approximately 78% of Taiwanese people want to continue to restrict food imports from Fukushima. Despite a UDN poll suggesting that most Taiwanese people have not changed their minds, displaying nearly identical numbers, the government has announced relaxations on their previous restrictive policies.
The government announced that products from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba prefectures will still need to be inspected before they can be importation, but wild meat, mushrooms, and rapeseed are still prohibited.
There have been some analysts who linked the 2020 referendum in which Taiwanese marginally passed a reversal on the ban on ractopamine-laced American pork to a trend in Taiwan towards liberalization.
All current CPTPP members now allow imports from Fukushima, and some have taken this to indicate that Taiwan would be willing to accept Fukushima imports to increase their likelihood of accession into the CPTPP.
Opposition party leaders have been critical, with outgoing Taipei mayor Ke Wen-zhe rejecting the link and suggesting that the two issues of the CPTPP and import restrictions should be considered separately, questioning the value of the CPTPP accession to Taiwan. KMT leader Eric Chu took a much more hardline approach, labelling the imports “nuclear disaster food which must be resisted to the end” (核災食品，一定反對到底), sensitive to the KMT’s history of leadership during previous food safety scandals in 2014.