SEJONG, June 26 (Yonhap) — Talks between South Korea and Japan over Seoul’s ban on fishery imports from the neighboring country ended without any progress as they stuck to their guns, the government here said Friday.
Seoul imposed an import ban on 50 fishery products from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear reactor there to melt down in March 2011.
The ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in waters surrounding Japan.
“The government held bilateral consultations with Japan on June 24-25 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva over our country’s import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, but the talks ended after the countries confirmed their differences,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.
Japan argued South Korea’s import ban had no scientific justification, demanding Seoul remove all its import restrictions at the earliest date possible.
South Korea maintained its measures were still necessary to ensure the safety of its people and that they were in line with the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
This week’s talks came after Tokyo requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a dispute settlement framework of the WTO.
Japan could ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel if the countries fail to reach a deal within 60 days following Japan’s request for bilateral consultations.
Seoul’s trade ministry said it was not clear whether Tokyo will ask for additional consultations, but that it will be fully prepared to deal with any legal processes.
“Japan has expressed its position that it will decide its next step after reviewing the outcome of this week’s bilateral consultations,” the ministry said.
“The government will begin preparing for WTO’s dispute settlement process as Japan is expected to ask for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel.”
Source : Yonhap News