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25th March 2011

Those following this blog or the many other sources of information available on the World Wide Web may have, no doubt, noticed the impact of the recent tragedy in Japan and the unfolding events springing therefrom. The tragic plight of the Japanese people was further highlighted recently by what appears to be a trend among many nations in their refusal to allow imports of foodstuffs from Japan. To quote directly from the website NAMnewsnetwork.org:

TOKYO, March 24 (NNN-BSS) — Australia, Canada and Singapore joined a list of countries shunning Japanese food imports Thursday as radioactive steam wafted anew from a disaster-struck nuclear plant, straining nerves in Tokyo.

The grim toll of dead and missing from Japan’s monster quake and tsunami on March 11 topped 25,000, as hundreds of thousands remained huddled in evacuation shelters and fears grew in the megacity of Tokyo over water safety.

The damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant from the tectonic calamity and a series of explosions has stoked global anxiety. The United States and Hong Kong have already restricted Japanese food, and France wants the EU to do the same.

The administration of this blog highly encourage readers to click on the above hyperlinks to read further about the situation in Japan. As the situation becomes more dire in Japan it would appear that even Japan’s key allies are unable to allow importation of possibly dangerous food products. The authorities in the Kingdom of Thailand appear to be taking preventative measures regarding importation of possibly tainted food as well. To quote directly from Bloomberg.com:

Thailand will check all fruit and vegetable imports from Japan’s main island, Honshu, before allowing their sale and will randomly screen other products such as fish, Pipat Yingseri, secretary-general of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, told a media conference today. The country hadn’t found any abnormal contamination since checks started in mid-March, he said.

As Thai, Hong Kong, Chinese, American, Australian, Canadian, and Singaporean authorities place restrictions on food imports, speculation abounds as to the response from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In discussions regarding the ramifications of the Japanese Crisis it may be best to remember the human elements which are constantly present in all of these regulatory and policy calculations.

As the situation in Japan continues to have global implications it remains to be seen how the various governments and international organizations around the world will react both politically and economically. One thing is clear, the crisis in Japan has the potential to completely reshape the geopolitical situation in Asia from both an economic as well as political perspective. How this change will impact both Thailand and the ASEAN community will be of increasing interest to the administration of this web log.

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