State Minister Kentaro Sonoura participates in the Fukushima Sweets Tasting Event and the event for announcement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s National Goodwill Ambassadors
On May 10, Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, participated in the Fukushima Sweets Tasting Event (hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) and the event for announcement of FAO’s National Goodwill Ambassadors (hosted by FAO), which were held under the participation of Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO. The overview is as follows:
- The events were attended by about 150 people, including State Minister Sonoura, Director-General Graziano da Silva, Mr. Hiroaki Nagasawa, State Minister for Reconstruction, Mr. Katsuo Yakura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Mr. Kaoru Kobayashi, Mayor of Fukushima City, as well as over 20 distinguished chefs and pastry chefs, and participants from 17 diplomatic missions to Japan, 14 media organizations, 7 international organizations, the private sector and the civil society.
- At the beginning, State Minister Sonoura presented the efforts being made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with other relevant Ministries to counter the reputation damage caused upon food and agricultural products of Japan, and especially of Fukushima, following the Great East Japan Earthquake, which include disseminating information overseas on the safety and appeal of those products and urging other governments to relax or remove the import restrictions put in place. State Minister Sonoura also mentioned the importance of FAO in contributing to the development of international standards on food safety by providing technical expertise from a neutral standpoint, and welcomed the participation of FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva.
- Director-General Graziano da Silva then stated that FAO, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been monitoring the safety of food and agricultural products of Fukushima, and that, as a result of the Japanese government’s support provided to the affected areas and transparent measures taken, the food safety of Fukushima products is ensured at this moment and there is no need to raise concerns. The participants tasted two kinds of sweets prepared by the distinguished chefs and pastry chefs, using fruits (apple and Japanese pear) grown in and provided by Fukushima City and peach juice provided by Fukushima Prefecture, and expressed their support towards the recovery of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Fukushima and other affected areas.
- At the event for announcement of FAO’s National Goodwill Ambassadors, Mr. Katsuhiro Nakamura and Ms. Hiroko Kuniya, a French chef and a journalist respectively, were announced as the FAO’s first-ever National Goodwill Ambassadors to Japan and received the letter of appointment from Director-General Graziano da Silva. State Minister Sonoura wished for the great success of the Goodwill Ambassadors in improving the visibility of FAO in Japan.
- Furthermore, in an exchange of views with Director-General Graziano da Silva prior to the Fukushima Sweets Tasting Event and announcement of the FAO’s National Goodwill Ambassadors, State Minister Sonoura expressed Japan’s willingness to continue to further strengthen its relationship with FAO, including through Japan-FAO Annual Strategic Consultation, stakeholder collaboration, and enhancement of human resources from Japan at FAO.
In response, Director-General Graziano da Silva stated his intentions to improve the visibility of FAO in Japan, as well as to actively recruit Japanese nationals at FAO, towards further collaboration with Japan as FAO’s important partner.
State Minister Sonoura and Director-General Graziano da Silva also exchanged views on issues of high interest to Japan, including the dissemination of international agreements and principles, such as the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), nutrition improvement, food loss and waste and ICT applications.