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Japan's consumer groups call for greater oversight of health food products

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Japan's consumer groups call for greater oversight of health food products

2024-06-16 18:00 Last Updated At:20:37

Consumer groups in Japan are calling for greater government oversight of health food products following a deadly scandal involving supplements produced by drugmaker Kobayashi Pharmaceutical.

A government investigation has found that a batch of tablets were contaminated with blue mould, leading to the death of at least five people. It's now considering tightening regulations.

The supplements were recalled from pharmacies in January. They have since been linked to about 3,000 cases of illness, including more than 200 hospitalizations and the five deaths.

Laboratory tests have linked the faulty pills to renal failure.

The company has not made any statement on the latest developments. But it responded to an interview request over email, saying it apologizes for the concern and anxiety it has caused. It says it is committed to restoring trust, and is fully cooperating with the government investigation.

The message hasn't changed since the company apologized in January. Locals say they are more concerned about accountability than product safety.

"Japan has a culture of hiding these issues rather than making them public. There seems to be an attitude of 'as long as it doesn't get exposed, it's fine'," said a Tokyo resident.

"Japanese people tend to think domestic products are safer than imported ones, and if I take supplements from a well-known manufacturer I assume that I'm safe," said another resident.

For more than 75 years, Japan's housewives association Shufuren has carried the motto "bringing the voice of the kitchen to politics." And its president, Makiko Kawamura, says politicians have dropped the ball on food safety.

Calling the supplement scandal a problem of wider systemic failings, the group is concerned about the deregulation of health food products over the past decade.

"These kinds of companies now only have to file the right documents for the government to clear their products. There are no checks. Product tests are only done at the company's discretion, leaving the consumer with little information about safety," said Makiko Kawamura, president of Shufuren.

The government is now planning to overhaul regulations for health food. It's considering making it compulsory for companies to disclose health problems caused by their products, and subjecting them to the same quality management system currently used for pharmaceutical drugs.

Japan's consumer groups call for greater oversight of health food products

Japan's consumer groups call for greater oversight of health food products

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Premier Li urges high-quality development to further deepen reform comprehensively

2024-07-22 22:24 Last Updated At:22:57

Chinese Premier Li Qiang has called for efforts to push forward high-standard opening-up and actively explore and innovate to motivate more momentum and vitality, so as to advance high-quality development in further deepening reform comprehensively.

Li, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks during a research trip to north China's Tianjin Municipality on Monday.

Li first visited the core area of the Tiankai Higher Education Innovation Park, where he learned about the park's construction and operation, and had talks with researchers and heads of sci-tech financial institutions as well as start-ups.

Saying that the key to fostering new growth drivers and developing new quality productivity lies in reform and innovation, Li underlined staying focused on integrated development of sci-tech innovation and industrial innovation, therefore building a more efficient and attractive sci-tech innovation platform.

He called for more support for small and medium-sized sci-tech firms and incentives for sci-tech personnel in terms of policies and funding, so as to promote the application of scientific and technological advances, and accelerate the development of new quality productivity.

The park, inaugurated in May, was established through the collaboration of Tianjin-based top-notched universities including Tianjin University and Nankai University.

Li then visited the branch of the world-leading elevator manufacturer Otis and CDHorizon, a world's top integrated equipment operation service provider, in the Binhai New Area.

Li urged efforts to make good use of policies for supporting the large renewal of equipment and to support enterprises in promoting the new application of artificial intelligence, so that more enterprises and products with core competitiveness can compete to emerge.

The premier also highlighted innovative use of financial leasing and other financial instruments, thus better serving the real economy.

Li called on the Binhai New Area to take the lead in better stimulating impetus and vitality in deepening reform, underlining the reform in institutions and mechanisms of the pilot free trade zone, financial innovation and development, and high-level opening up to the outside world.

Li also emphasized the need to accelerate the integrated development of ports, industries and cities by leveraging strengths and characteristics, in order to integrate resources and enhance their role in promoting the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Fully acknowledging Tianjin's achievements in socio-economic development, Li expressed his hope that the municipality will forge ahead and constantly scale new heights in promoting high-quality development.

Premier Li urges high-quality development to further deepen reform comprehensively

Premier Li urges high-quality development to further deepen reform comprehensively

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