Fukushima: Japan labels China’s seafood ban unacceptable

In the latest round of regional conflict over discharge of treated radioactive water from the nuclear plant, Japan has told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that China’s ban on Japanese seafood from water around the Fukushima nuclear plant has been “totally unacceptable”.

The phrase was used by the Japanese foreign ministry.

In a riposte to China’s notification to the WTO on its measures to suspend Japanese aquatic imports, which started last month, Japan said it would explain its positions in relevant WTO committees and has urged China to immediately repeal the action.

Japan said it will explain the safety of the released water at diplomatic forums, including the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia and G20 Summit in India this month, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Tokyo’s foreign ministry said Japan has also asked China to hold discussions over the import ban based on the provisions of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact.

Since the 2011 tsunami which severely damaged the plant, more than a million tonnes of treated waste water has accumulated there. Japan began discharging it on 24 August, in a process that will take 30 years to complete.

Despite an endorsement from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the plan has been deeply controversial in Japan with local communities expressing concerns about contamination.

Fishing industry groups in Japan and the wider region are also worried about their livelihoods, as they fear consumers will avoid buying seafood.

China has accused Japan of treating the ocean as its “private sewer”, and criticised the IAEA of being “one-sided”.