South Korea plans to continue to ban all seafood imports from Fukushima Prefecture and seven other prefectures near Fukushima to protect public health and food safety

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SEJONG, May 7 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s new ocean minister vowed Tuesday to ensure that potentially dangerous seafood will not reach South Korean tables.
“There should never be anything that could compromise public health” and food safety, Moon Seong-hyeok, minister of oceans and fisheries, said in a meeting with reporters ahead of his planned meeting with the top Japanese envoy.
Moon is set to meet with Japan’s Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nakamine in Sejong, an administrative hub located 130 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Wednesday at Nakamine’s request.
Moon plans to stress that South Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood are a legitimate measure meant to protect public health.
South Korea banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013. The move came after Japan announced the leak of contaminated water following the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
In April, the World Trade Organization finalized its ruling in favor of South Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood.
Moon also plans to call for a quick conclusion to South Korea-Japan fisheries negotiations, according to the ministry.
The last bilateral fisheries agreement expired in June 2016. South Korea and Japan have since failed to narrow their differences on fishing quotas and other issues.
Last month, Moon sent a letter to Japan calling for fisheries talks, though there has been no response from Japan.
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Japan insists on pushing its contaminated seafood to South Korea, despite WTO ruling!

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Japan denounces WTO ruling in favor of South Korean ban on some Japanese seafood
GENEVA – Tokyo on Friday denounced a recent World Trade Organization ruling that supported a South Korean ban on imports of some Japanese fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Japan is deeply concerned that the appellate body report dismissed the panel’s findings founded on solid scientific evidence,” Junichi Ihara, Japan’s representative in Geneva, said at a meeting of the global trade watchdog’s dispute settlement body.
The WTO’s appellate body for dispute settlement on April 11 ruled in favor of South Korea’s import ban on fishery products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures, reversing an earlier decision.
It said the initial decision “erred in its interpretation and application” of WTO rules on food safety, but did not look at details related to the amount of radioactive contaminants in Japanese food products or the level of protection South Korean consumers should have.
Calling the appellate body’s judgment “extremely regrettable,” Ihara argued that it “could have a negative impact on perceptions of the safety of Japanese foods and on those seeking to export their products to countries such as Korea.”
The ruling is final, as the appellate body is the highest authority in the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism.

Seoul welcomes WTO’s ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

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Japanese newspapers report about the World Trade Organization’s decision in favor of Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood. Yonhap
April 12, 2019
South Korea on Friday welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to rule in favor of Seoul’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and said it would keep the ban in place going forward.
 
The WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict earlier in the day, saying the Seoul government’s measures are not unfair trade restrictions and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.
 
The appellate body, however, sided with Japan on one point, saying that Seoul has not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.
 
“The government has been making all-out efforts to follow the principle of making the health and safety of the people a priority, and the government highly appraises the WTO’s decision,” the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Energy said in a statement.
 
The South Korean government said it hopes that there would be no further trade dispute with Japan.
 
In 2015, Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught after 2013. Tokyo argued that radioactive levels of its fishery product were lower than those from a number of other nations.
 
The WTO’s dispute settlement body ruled in favor of Japan in February 2018.
 
South Korea has been placing import restrictions on 28 kinds of fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since the nuclear power plant accident.
 
The South Korean government said it will keep the existing import ban on all seafood from the eight prefectures. All Japanese seafood companies will be required to hand in safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found, it added.
 
About 50 countries have maintained bans on imports since the nuclear disaster, but Japan has complained to the WTO about only one country — South Korea.
 
“Currently, 19 more countries have implemented an import ban (on Japanese seafood) at different levels,” said Yoon Chang-yul, the head of the social policy coordination office under the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
 
South Korea, meanwhile, has been replacing its imports of Japanese pollack and mackerel with supplies from Russia and Norway respectively, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
 
“In the past, (South Korea) imported around 20,000 to 40,000 tons of pollack and mackerel from Japan. Now the volume is below 3,000 tons,” an official from the ocean ministry said.
 
“It is a sovereign country’s right to implement an appropriate level of protection,” an official from the ministry said. “All countries have different standards, and they cannot be judged under the same standard. The Fukushima crisis broke out in a neighboring country, and we needed to review our protection level in a more strict and thorough manner.” (Yonhap)

S. Korean activists demand Japan not dump Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea

October 8, 2018
SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korean environmental groups on Monday urged Japan to reverse its recent decision to release radioactive water that has accumulated in the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea after treatment.
Korea Radioactive Watch, the Korean Federation For Environmental Movement and other civic groups held a joint news conference in Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul, denouncing the decision by the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to discharge Fukushima’s contaminated water into the ocean as “unacceptable.”
 
   “A release of Fukushima’s radioactive, contaminated water will threaten the safety of the waters of South Korea and other neighboring nations that share the Pacific Ocean, as well as the waters in the vicinity of Fukushima,” the activist groups said.
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South Korean environmental activists hold a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 8, 2018, to protest against Japan’s decision to release the Fukushima nuclear plant’s radioactive, contaminated water into the sea.
 
In March 2011, a major earthquake and a subsequent tsunami triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The South Korean groups went on to argue that cost reduction appears to be the main reason for Japan’s push to discharge Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea without checking its contamination condition.
“The Japanese government should disclose all information related to Fukushima’s radioactive water and listen to the opinions of its neighboring countries about how to dispose of the contaminated water. The South Korean government should sternly protest to Japan and take aggressive countermeasures,” the groups said.
They also insisted that water contaminated by high concentrations of radioactive materials collected around the Fukushima plant buildings after the 2011 accident and that the amount is estimated to reach about 940,000 tons.

South Korean Prime Minister Expresses Concern about Tokyo’s Plan to Release Fukushima Nuclear Plant Radioactive Water

 

PM Lee calls for prudent decision by Japan on water from Fukushima plant

Seoul’s Prime Minister expressed serious concerns over reports that Japan is planning to dump water into the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was badly damaged seven years ago.
In Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Lee Nak-yon noted that 80 percent of the water from the plant has been deemed by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, to be too contaminated to be released.
However, TEPCO adds, the water has been treated.
The PM urged Japan to make a prudent decision, and instructed the relevant South Korean ministries to convey the government’s position on the matter.
He stressed the ocean does not belong to any one country, but a resource to be shared by the world, and that dumping such water would have a big impact on the marine environment.
 

Seoul to Express Concern over Tokyo’s Plan to Release Fukushima Plant Water

South Korea plans to deliver its concern over media reports the Japanese government is mulling releasing treated water from a nuclear plant damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
An official of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry revealed the plan to reporters on Tuesday, saying that given the influences of radiation-related issues and public sensitivity to them, it’s a legitimate concern for South Korea as a neighboring country.
The official said the government will seize a proper opportunity to deliver its concern to the Japanese government and seek cooperation to address the issue.
The move comes after reports emerged that the Japanese government might release water at one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants after purifying it. However, the Japanese media reported more than 80 percent of the purified water still contains radioactive elements.

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.
 

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.