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.”