Disasters-hit prefectures seek revival at Canton Fair
A group of exhibitors stood out over the weekend at the 110th China Import and Export Fair, which has drawn exhibitors from around the world since its founding more than 50 years ago.
The group, a consortium of 12 companies and organisations, comprised of about 30 people from three prefectures in Japan - Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, which were badly hit by the earthquake and tsunami disasters on March 11.
Their mission at the Canton Fair was simple: to restore consumer and tourist confidence. They were among the largest groups of foreign firms taking part in the fair's first session between October 15 and 19.
Big names such as Wal-Mart Stores, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were in attendance. As Beijing has banned imports of fish, food and farm produce from the prefectures that were affected by those disasters and the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis, some exhibitors could not import any food, wine and confectionary products. However, they displayed wares that were imported before March 11.
In August, Premier Wen Jiabao promised partial easing of the ban on imported food from Japan.
'We want to tell the public that there are some areas safe to travel and some food safe to eat,' said Hitoshi Watanabe, assistant director-general of the Fukushima prefecture's Commerce, Industry and Labour Department.
The Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged by the tsunami that followed the March 11 quake, which allowed radiation to leak and contaminate food and dairy products. The prefecture is now seeking to boost trade with the mainland.
Takashi Sato, deputy director of the Yamagata prefecture's economic exchange division, said Japan's domestic food supply was tested for radiation levels, and some radiation-free tourism destinations remained open for business.
The number of exhibitors at the spring fair session. The Canton Fair is run two times a year.