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Japan Urges WTO to Address China’s Unjustified Ban on Fukushima-Related Seafood

Japan has filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China’s ban on Japanese seafood over the release of treated wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.

China announced a blanket ban on all Japanese aquatic products after Japan began releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima power plant on Aug. 24.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it had submitted a counterargument to the WTO—which oversees the rules for global trade—explaining the safety of the treated radioactive water release.

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The ministry said that Beijing’s import ban was “totally unacceptable” and urged the Chinese government to repeal its measure. It added that Japan would continue to explain its position in relevant WTO committees.

In the document (pdf), the ministry emphasized that Japan’s standard for the release of tritium, which is below 22 trillion becquerels per year, is lower than those released by China’s nuclear reactors.

“For instance, the amount of tritium to be released annually from [Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station] is approximately one-tenth of the amount of tritium released from Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant in China,” it stated.

“China adopted the measure to suspend import of all aquatic products from Japan notwithstanding the above-mentioned scientific information provided by Japan. Thus, China’s implementation of the measure cannot be regarded as being based on scientific principles,” it added.

In a separate statement on Sept. 4, the ministry said it had requested a discussion with China regarding the import ban in accordance with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact.

“It is extremely regretful that China has taken these measures, and Japan has been urging China to immediately repeal its measures,” the ministry stated.

Fishery workers unload seafood caught in offshore trawl fishing at Matsukawaura port in Soma City, Fukushima prefecture in Japan, on Sept. 1, 2023. (JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)
Fishery workers unload seafood caught in offshore trawl fishing at Matsukawaura port in Soma City, Fukushima prefecture in Japan, on Sept. 1, 2023. (JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

The Japanese embassy in Beijing has revealed that ever since the treated water’s discharge began, harassment toward Japanese parties has escalated. Activities planned at the embassy have been postponed due to a deluge of hostile phone calls originating from China.

Namazu Hiroyuki, the director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, conveyed Japan’s formal complaint to Yang Yu, China

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