Emergency Hotlines: LANDLINE (+63) 2 911 – 8688

PH lifts 7-year-old ban on several fish species from Fukushima

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Cherry Salmon | Courtesy: OpenCage / Wikimedia Commons

TOKYO, Japan – Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Wednesday (May 29) announced that the Philippines officially lifted the ban imposed seven years ago on the importation of several fish species from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture.

Piñol noted that the move was a ‘gesture of goodwill’ during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members in the island nation.

“The lifting of the ban which covers such species as Cherry Salmon, Sand Lance, Japanese Dace, and Ayu from Fukushima ends a 7-year issue which strained PH-Japan Agriculture and Fisheries Trade,” Piñol said on his social media account.

He called the ban, issued during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, as a ‘ridiculous bureaucratic exercise’ because the fish species included in the ban are not even imported by the Philippines.

“I consider the ban as just bureaucratic gobbledygook and an over-reaction to an issue which did not really affect the Philippines,” he said.

The Agriculture Secretary confirmed that he signed the order lifting the importation ban on May 27.

It will be officially presented to Japanese Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Yoshikawa Takamori during the four-day visit, according to the Secretary.

“With this move, the Duterte Administration is showing goodwill to the Japanese government as it moves to promote the entry of more Philippine agriculture products to the Philippines,” he concluded.

Tags: , , , ,

South Koreans boycott Japanese brands and cancel trips as diplomatic row intensifies

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Angry South Korean consumers are taking action after Tokyo imposed curbs on exports to South Korea, promoting a widespread boycott of Japanese products and services, from beer to clothes and travel.

“We decided to cancel (the trip to Japan) because it went against our beliefs. I’m actually feeling relieved,” said Lee Sang-won, a 29-year-old designer, who canceled his Japan trip for a 130,000 won ($110.15) fee.

Screenshots of Japan trip cancellations are trending on social media. Lee and his friends, who have changed their holiday destination to Taiwan, ‘proudly’ presented their canceled ticket to Japan on his social media account.

“I believe it is very significant for South Korean citizens to show them (the Japanese government) their thoughts and actions. These boycotts are not about how much economic damage we can inflict, but about how we can raise their awareness,” said Lee, scheduling his trip to Taiwan with his friend.

Diplomatic tensions have been simmering again since a South Korean court last year ordered Japanese companies to compensate South Koreans who were forced to work during the war. Then on July 4, Japan restricted exports of high-tech materials to South Korea, denying the move was related to the compensation issue. Tokyo cited “inadequate management” of sensitive exports, with Japanese media reporting some items ended up in North Korea. Seoul has denied that.

Meanwhile, some local supermarkets pulled Japanese beers off the shelves, which was their way of taking a stance against Japan as a quickly worsening political and economic dispute between the two East Asian neighbors rekindles lingering animosity since Japan’s World War Two occupation of Korea.

“Of course we should (boycott Japanese products). There are so many good, tasty products, domestic and overseas alike, so why bother (consuming Japanese products) when we have this problem with Japan?” said a 55-year-old South Korean customer at a local market where he can’t find Japanese beers, said he has plenty of other options which can replace Japanese products.

Economists say the tech export curbs could shave 0.4% off South Korea’s gross domestic product this year. The boycott – if it proves to be more than just a brief burst of nationalistic fervor – could marginally add to that, unless consumers spend on something else.

“We are pleased to see this has turned consumers’ favor towards our pens,” said Park Seol, assistant manager at stationery maker Monami, whose online sales have risen five-fold since the curbs.

Japan’s Fast Retailing fashion brand Uniqlo, which sells clothes worth around 140 billion yen – 6.6% of its revenue – in 186 Korean stores, is also feeling the anger as its chief financial officer said last week there was a certain impact on sales. (REUTERS)

(Production: Daewoung Kim & Heejung Jung)

Tags: , , ,

34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kyoto animation studio fire death toll rises to 33

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Fire-damaged animation studio building | Courtesy: China Central Television (CCTV)

The death toll from an animation studio fire in Kyoto, Japan on Thursday has risen to 33, local police and rescuers said.

The local fire department said 36 others have been injured, 10 of them critically, in the blaze that sent people desperately scrambling up the stairs toward the roof of the three-story building of the Kyoto Animation Co.

The blaze, ignited by a 41-year-old man with flammable liquid, is believed to be the country’s worst case of arson in decades.

About 70 people were working in the studio when the fire started.

Witnesses said that they saw victims who were badly bleeding were rushed to hospital in the incident that took place at around 10:35 local time in the city’s Fushimi Ward Thursday morning.

Police said the largest number of victims were found on the top floor of the three-story building, including some who had collapsed on the stairs leading to the roof.

The fire caused an explosion that shattered all the windows on the second and third floors.

More than 30 fire engines were deployed to the scene.

The firefighters managed to contain the fire around 03:20 local time, about five hours after it started.

“We sent out a quick report that the building had burned down. This is what has been learned from the investigation at the moment. The building, about 691 square meters, was completely destroyed,” said a Kyoto fireman.

The suspect is also being treated in hospital for injuries sustained during the fire and has been taken into custody, investigators said. His motives are yet to be determined. (REUTERS)

Tags: , ,