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.
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.