WTO rules in favor of Japan on South Korea’s post-Fukushima seafood ban

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of Japan, in a dispute about South Korea’s ban on imports of Japanese seafood, reports KBS World Radio.
 
The WTO reaffirmed the ruling in a report in February, four months after it made the decision last October. In response, the Korean government filed an appeal against the ruling by the Geneva-based organization on April 9.
 
The dispute dates back to 2011, when Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and suffered a nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima. Amid fears of radioactive leaks from quake-hit Japan, South Korea prohibited imports of agro-fishery products from Fukushima.
 
In 2013, the ban was expanded to include 28 fishery products from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima. Japan took the case to the WTO in protest. The WTO ruled in favor of Japan in its first hearing, saying that South Korea’s measures lacked transparency. In turn, Korea’s trade ministry has filed an appeal against the ruling.
 
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Korea Appeals World Trade Organization Ruling on Imports from Fukushima

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Korea Appeals WTO Ruling on Imports from Fukushima
April 10, 2018
The government has appealed a World Trade Organization ruling that accused Korea of violating trade regulations by banning imports of seafood from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, which was the site of a massive nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011.
“The nuclear fallout persists in Japan, and the ruling is problematic since it’s our job to make sure the food Koreans eat is safe,” a government spokesman said Monday.
In February of this year, the WTO ruled in favor of Japan, which has demanded Korea lift the ban.
Korea banned imports from the region in 2011, just after a massive earthquake there resulted in the nuclear meltdown. Japan sued Korea at the WTO in 2015.
South Korea appeals WTO ruling against import ban on Japanese seafood
South Korea has appealed a World Trade Organization ruling against its restrictions on the import of seafood from eight Japanese prefectures following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The government had earlier vowed to fight the ruling to safeguard public health and safety while keeping the ban in place. Seoul announced its appeal on Monday.
 
In the ruling, announced Feb. 22, the WTO’s dispute settlement panel said the ban was inconsistent with the global trade body’s rules against “arbitrarily or unjustifiably” discriminating against another country, recommending that South Korea take corrective action.
The panel also said a South Korean requirement that Japanese exporters of all marine products submit certificates of inspection if small amounts of radioactive cesium or iodine are detected is an effective barrier to fair trade.
The decision came more than two years after Japan filed a complaint in 2015 over the South Korean ban, claiming it was not based on scientific grounds.
In Tokyo, fisheries minister Ken Saito expressed regret on Tuesday over South Korea’s appeal, telling a news conference it was “extremely regrettable.”
He also said Japan will properly address the matter so that its claims will be accepted by the WTO’s appellate body. In addition, Tokyo will urge Seoul to swiftly lift the ban, Saito said.
Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, South Korea initially imposed a partial ban on imports of marine products from the eight prefectures due to fears of radioactive contamination.
In September 2013, Seoul expanded the restrictions to bar all fishery products from the eight prefectures and strengthened import regulations.
The eight prefectures are Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba.

Fukushima tourism finally rebounds from 2010’s triple disasters

Proving that covering-up, disinformation and censorship are working very well. Those tourists are certainly unaware that they might bring back from Fukushima more than just wrapped souvenirs….wrapped inside their body.
5 March, 2018
Nearly seven years after the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown virtually crippled Fukushima’s tourism industry, the number of foreign overnight travellers has recovered to levels last seen before the disaster.
In the first 10 months of calendar 2017, a total of 78,680 foreign visitors spent at least one night in the prefecture, surpassing the 77,890 visitors in the same period in 2010. Final statistics for the full year are not available, but prefectural authorities expect the 2017 figure to eclipse 2010’s figure of 87,170 foreigners who stayed in the prefecture.
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Tourist visiting Ouchijuku Village, a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route in Fukushima
 
Visitor numbers collapsed in the months after the March 11 earthquake and a mere 23,990 foreigners stayed in calendar 2011.
“We have been working with the Fukushima government to promote the prefecture at international events, focusing on events in countries where we have already seen visitor numbers recover, such as Taiwan, Thailand and Australia,” said Kazuhiko Yoshioka, director of overseas promotion for the Fukushima Prefecture Tourism and Local Products Association.
Yoshioka shared that the organisation plugs the prefecture’s samurai history, onsen, fruit, scenery and seasonal highlights as part of overseas promotion. Information on the destination is also shared online.
“Getting the message across can be difficult,” he admitted. “We have found that the best way to overcome worries about safety is to ensure that up-to-date and accurate information is accessible and then to share that information as widely as possible.”
Travel operators concur that visitor numbers have bounced back strongly.
Paul Christie, CEO of Walk Japan, said the company’s walking tour in the footsteps of famous poet Basho in Tohoku are “selling very well – so well, in fact, that they are sold out months in advance.”
“We have found that whatever problems happened in Fukushima seven years ago are no longer in the forefront of people’s minds,” he said. “I have been quite surprised, but it is really not an issue for the vast majority of people.”
At Nippon Travel Agency, Kaho Mori, assistant manager of the inbound division, observed: “There is interest in Fukushima Prefecture as part of our tours of the Tohoku region. We are getting a lot of interest in that part of the country from visitors from North America, although less from European countries.”

Seoul defies WTO ruling, vows to keep ban on Japan’s Fukushima seafood

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South Korea vows to maintain its restrictions on Japanese seafood imports and appeal the WTO’s ruling against additional radiation tests and bans on fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In 2015, Tokyo filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging South Korea’s import bans that were introduced on certain fish caught in Japanese waters over fears of radiation following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant in March 2011. In its official complaint, Japan also challenged additional testing and certification requirements placed by Seoul on Japanese fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima.
On Thursday, the WTO ruled in Japan’s favor, claiming that while South Korean practices were initially justified, they now violate the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement. “By maintaining the product-specific and blanket import bans on the 28 fishery products from the 8 prefectures and the 2011 and 2013 additional testing requirements on Japanese products, Korea acted inconsistently with Article 2.3, first sentence of the SPS Agreement and, as a consequence with Article 2.3, second sentence,” the ruling said.
South Korea on Friday refused to bow to the WTO ruling due to public health and safety concerns, announcing that it will challenge the ruling while maintaining the current level of restrictions.
“The Korean government will appeal to safeguard public health and safety,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release. “Regardless of the decision, the current import ban will be put in place until the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure ends.”
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, called Seoul’s disobedience regrettable. “Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their measures,” he said at a news conference.
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Twenty-four nations across the globe still have some import limitations on Japanese seafood products. Originally, 46 nations adopted protective measures but over time have eased their restriction practices to allow Japanese imports. Despite the ban on Fukushima products, South Korea has imported 708,566 tons of seafood from Japan since March 2011, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. South Korean authorities returned only around 0.03 percent of those imports, asking for additional radiation level tests.

 

Japan immorality in pushing the export of its contaminated foods to other countries

From The Yomiuri Shimbun, a propaganda mouthpiece close to the Japanese government.

 

Give new impetus to countries to lift import bans on Japanese seafood

An unfair import ban imposed in reaction to the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture is unacceptable. Japan must make use of this clear judgment for countries to accelerate lifting such bans.

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel ruled that South Korea’s ban on fishery products imported from Japan amounts to “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” and violates WTO rules.

Citing the nuclear accident as a reason, South Korea has imposed a blanket import ban on fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, since September 2013. For some of the import items, the ban has a serious impact on the fishery industries in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident.

Japan filed complaints with the WTO in 2015, claiming Seoul’s ban was “not based on scientific grounds and hampered free trade.” It calls for the ban to be lifted on 28 kinds of fishery products, such as bonito and saury.

The WTO has sided with Japan because it did not get a satisfactory explanation from South Korea about why Seoul focused solely on fishery products imported from Japan.

Might Seoul have aimed to exclude Japanese fishery products that compete with those of South Korea? If so, such an attitude would run counter to the WTO’s principle of free trade and losing the case would be inevitable.

The South Korean government announced that it will appeal to a higher WTO panel, equivalent to a higher court. A situation should be avoided in which handing down the final decision is unnecessarily postponed.

Moves by S. Korea, China vital

It is reasonable that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito said, “[We] call for South Korea to sincerely and swiftly correct the violation of the [WTO] agreement.”

Japan exports products after subjecting them to an even stricter examination than is required by international standards on the influence of radioactive substances on foods.

The number of countries and regions that imposed import bans on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident was initially 54, but it declined by half to 27 as time went by.

In addition to South Korea, many of Japan’s main trading partners, including China, the United States and the European Union, still impose import restrictions on Japanese foods. Among other steps, they continue to ban importing some items or call for the presentation of certificates of inspection of Japanese foods.

In particular, China has taken the same level of strict restrictive measures as South Korea, and banned importing all foods from Tokyo and nine other prefectures.

The moves of China and South Korea seem to strongly influence other Asian countries and others that are still taking some kind of regulatory measures against Japanese foods.

In parallel with its efforts regarding South Korea, the Japanese government needs to make more efforts toward negotiations with China for lifting its import ban.

Although the government has set the goal of exporting ¥1 trillion worth of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and other foods in 2019, such exports remain sluggish.

It has been pointed out that meat and fruit imported from Japan, which have become luxury brands, are sought after and praised by wealthy people abroad, yet there are few products for the most populous middle-income bracket of other countries.

There is no doubt that lifting the import bans of each country would also contribute to the improvement of the image of Japanese products overall.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004265927

South Korea to fight WTO ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

My respect to South Korean government which stands to protect the health of their citizens. Unlike many others.
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In this Sept. 6, 2013, file photo, a worker using a Geiger counter checks for possible radioactive contamination at Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul, South Korea.
South Korea said Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against Seoul’s import bans on Japanese fishery products imposed in the wake of Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Friday it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against bans on imports of Japanese fishery products after the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
The government said in a statement that the appeal was meant to protect public health and safety. It said it will maintain its existing regulations on imports of Japanese seafood.
The Geneva-based WTO accepted Japan’s complaint, saying South Korea’s policies violated the trade body’s rules, were discriminatory and served as a trade barrier.
In 2013, South Korea banned imports of all fishery products from eight Japanese provinces near Fukushima after Tokyo Electric Power reported leaks of radiation-contaminated water. That tightened restrictions imposed after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. It also required inspection certificates for food products from Japan if small amounts of radioactive cesium or iodine were detected.
Japan filed a complaint against the move in 2015.
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, said the appeal was regrettable. He urged South Korea to abide by the decision and scrap its current practices.
“Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their (import ban) measures,” he said at a news conference.
South Korea is one of a handful of countries that have banned foods from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures.
China also bans seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and nine other prefectures, including Tokyo. It requires certificate on foods from the rest of Japan. The two governments recently set up a committee to discuss possibly easing the ban.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and several other countries such as Singapore, Russia and the Philippines, also ban seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures. However they allow imports from elsewhere in Japan if they have a required certificate of safety. Taiwan has agreed to start easing restrictions later this year.
The U.S. does not impose a blanket ban on Fukushima, but instead restricts specific agricultural products from specific regions.
Since the accident, 26 countries have lifted bans on imports related to the Fukushima disaster.

South Koreans still distrustful of Japanese fish products after nuclear meltdown

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SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) — A majority of South Koreans favor banning the import of Japanese fishery products, a survey showed Friday, underscoring lingering safety concerns about possible radioactive contamination.
Radioactive water leaked following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.
The Consumers Union of Korea polled 1,023 adults across the country last year, and the results showed 55.3 percent want stronger import restrictions. Another 37.2 percent said the restrictions should be “very heavy.”
 
   The results of the survey were released by opposition lawmaker Choi Do-ja, who obtained them from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
South Korea prohibited imports of agricultural and fish products from Fukushima and its adjacent areas after radioactive leaks following the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan.
In 2013, Seoul took a stronger measure to ban imports from fisheries in eight other Japanese prefectures near Fukushima.
Japan took the case to the World Trade Organization, accusing South Korea of discriminating against its exports. The ruling is scheduled in the first half of this year.
According to the survey, 45.5 percent want a complete import ban on all Japanese foods, while 39.6 percent said they want at least a full ban on select products from certain prefectures.
Results showed that 55.3 percent of South Koreans are not buying fish products from Japan. Other shunned items included agricultural products (56.3 percent), dairy products (52.8 percent), cosmetics and processed foods (37.5 percent) and other manufactured goods (35.3 percent).
Among people who said they either do not buy Japanese fishery products or have cut back on such purchases, 79.2 percent said the reason was because they do not feel safe. In addition, 59.2 percent said they will not buy fish from Japan even when there is no trace of radioactive contamination.
The biggest concerns from radioactive exposure included cancer (42.4 percent), newborns with deformities (30.4 percent) and hereditary disease (13.4 percent).
“It has been seven years since the Fukushima accident, but people are still worried about fishery products from Japan,” Rep. Choi said. “There has to be more effort to allay these concerns through imports limits and thorough inspection of radioactive traces in foods.”