China bans some Japanese food over radiation fear
China banned imports of several food products from Japan on Friday amid fears of contamination from its crippled nuclear plant and reported finding elevated radiation levels on two Japanese travellers.
China's safety watchdog said it had banned dairy and aquatic products, vegetables and fruit from five Japanese prefectures near the stricken Fukushima nuclear facility and ordered stepped up checks on a host of other products.
It also ordered strengthened monitoring of food and agricultural products from other parts of Japan.
China follows Russia, Australia, Singapore, the United States, South Korea and Taiwan in restricting food imports from Japan two weeks after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the country.
The twin disasters devastated large areas of Japan, damaged the plant on its eastern coast, and stoked contamination fears both at home and abroad.
China saw panic-buying last week of salt in the belief that its iodine could protect against radiation poisoning from Japan and the Chinese government has tightened checks on incoming passengers and goods.
Adding to the anxiety, the Chinese safety agency said earlier Friday that two Japanese travellers were taken to hospital this week with elevated radiation levels after arriving in eastern China from Tokyo.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine added in a separate statement that radiation was detected on a Japanese merchant vessel that berthed in the southeastern port city of Xiamen on Monday.
The two Japanese travellers arrived in the city of Wuxi on Wednesday night, the agency said in a statement.
They were later sent to a hospital in the nearby city of Suzhou, where they were "decontaminated", given iodine tablets, and released after a short time, Liu Yulong, the doctor who treated them, told AFP.
"The (radiation) dosage was not very large and should not harm their health," he said.
The government statement had said radiation levels that "seriously exceeded standards" were detected on the pair when they arrived in Wuxi.
The two Japanese lived in areas within 200 to 350 kilometres (125 to 220 miles) of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, the government statement said, adding that the pair posed no harm to other people.
A spokesman for the inspection agency told the official Xinhua news agency that the Japanese transport vessel was still in the port of Xiamen on Friday and said authorities would take further "measures", without elaborating.
The spokesman did not say whether the ship itself or its cargo had shown abnormal radiation levels, according to Xinhua.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that Chinese authorities had asked the vessel, owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd, to keep out of the port.
The vessel arrived in Xiamen from Tokyo.