China on Nov. 28 lifted its import ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture but maintained restrictions imposed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on other food from 10 prefectures.

During their summit in October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift the import restrictions on Japanese agricultural and other products.

China apparently examined the distances and wind directions from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and decided to remove the ban on Niigata rice.

Japanese private companies have long hoped to resume rice exports to China, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world market for the staple food.

The Japanese government plans to ask the Chinese government to further ease restrictions on other food products.

The Abe administration has been promoting overseas sales of Japanese food products. It has set a goal of 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) as the annual export amount of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, as well as processed food.

But after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 54 countries and regions imposed restrictions on food imports from Japan.

Although the restrictions have been gradually eased, eight countries and regions--China, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau--still ban imports of certain products from certain areas of Japan, according to the agricultural ministry.

(This article was compiled from reports by Ayumi Shintaku and Takashi Funakoshi in Beijing and Tetsushi Yamamura in Tokyo.)