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Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.17 (February 7, 2008) ============================================================

"Food safety. This is Yasuo Fukuda. "
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Yasuo FukudaProfile Japanese

Food safety. This is Yasuo Fukuda.

In the recent string of incidents in which toxic substances were found to be mixed in with frozen dumplings made in China, serious harm has been caused with 10 persons affected so far, most of whom were admitted to the hospital. I am gravely concerned about the situation.

Among the victims have been small children. One five-year-old child in Chiba Prefecture remains in the hospital undergoing treatment. A newspaper article that described how much this child's mother is worrying about her daughter's prospects for recovery while herself also suffering from the symptoms of poisoning, underscored for me the seriousness of the current problem and highlighted the vital importance of protecting the safety of foods on our plates.

I sincerely hope that the victims regain their health as soon as possible and start to enjoy, once again, their mealtimes together with family.

It came to light in investigations that there was a delay in the reporting of the initial incident of poisoning. This is truly regrettable, given that swifter reporting could have prevented the child from falling ill.

The Government, in cooperation with the Chinese authorities, is conducting a full investigation to identify the cause of the problem. At the same time, all the ministries and agencies concerned are making their utmost efforts, including through the provision of information to the public, to prevent the damage from spreading any further.

To a significant extent, Japan's food supply now rests on imported food. That is all the more reason why the Government has before it a great many tasks to undertake -- including the strengthening of the inspection system and provision of accurate information -- in order to ensure food safety so that people can feel secure as they enjoy their meals.

In the case of imported food, as with other cases, many official organizations, including the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the National Police Agency, and prefectural governments, are involved. As such, we need a system to ensure that prompt countermeasures are taken in a responsible manner whenever problems occur.

Furthermore, it is very important to establish a system at the earliest possible date so that the people know exactly where to go for consultations and to obtain necessary information.

Yesterday, I inaugurated the Council for Promoting Consumer Policy at the Prime Minister's Office. I also appointed a Minister for Consumer Affairs. I am determined to build a powerful organization for administration within the Government to "protect consumers" by coming to conclusions, as quickly as possible, on the content of consumer policy based on the standpoint of the people.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matushige Oono
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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