Since 1967 research activities on food irradiation in Japan have been carried out under the National Food Irradiation Programme by the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission. The programme has been concentrated on the technological and economical feasibility and wholesomeness testings of seven irradiated food items of economic importance to the country, i.e. potatoes, onions, wheat, rice, 'kamaboko' (fish-paste products), 'Vienna' sausages and mandarin oranges. By now most studies, including wholesomeness testings of these irradiated food items, have been completed. In Japan, all foods or food additives for sale are regulated by the Food Sanitation Law enforced in 1947. Based on studies made by the national programme, irradiated potatoes were given 'unconditional acceptance' for human consumption in 1972. At present, irradiated potatoes are the only food item which has so far been approved by the Minister of Health and Welfare. Unless the Minister of Health and Welfare has declared that items are not harmful to human health on obtaining comments from the Food Sanitation Investigation Council, no irradiated food can be processed or sold. In addition, the import of irradiated foodstuffs other than potatoes from foreign countries is prohibited by law.