The US is expected to fully remove a series of restrictions on the import of food products from Japan in the coming weeks, it has been reported.
Strict measures have been in place on imports originating from ten of Japan's 47 prefectures since 2011 as a result of the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Any company seeking to ship items such as seafood and mushrooms to the EU has been required to obtain a certificate confirming the goods are free from radiation.
However, sources told the Nikkei that Brussels has determined that import restrictions are no longer necessary.
It is expected that a formal announcement will be made next month, possibly to coincide with a summit between Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and EU leaders to be held in Brussels in mid-July.
Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said: “We understand that there are some positive moves towards lifting restrictions, which we as the Japanese government welcome.”
He added that the easing of restrictions should help with reconstruction of the areas affected by the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.
At one point, 55 countries and territories had imposed similar restrictions on Japanese food imports, but many of the country's major trading partners, including the US and UK, have eased their rules in the last couple of years.
If the EU does follow suit, this would leave only a handful of countries with restrictions still in place, including South Korea and China.
A spokeswoman for the EU told Kyodo News that food safety is a top priority for the 27-member bloc, which is why it has imposed "special conditions" on imports after the Fukushima incident.
She added: "The EU measures are discussed on a regular basis and, if necessary, amended to consider recent developments and new scientific data."