Japan lodges protest at WTO over China’s seafood ban after Fukushima wastewater release

Tokyo, Sep 5 (EFE).- Japan said Tuesday that it has lodged a protest with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over China’s ban on imports of all its seafood products after the start of the release of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Japanese government has asked China to lift the restrictions – which it considers lacking in scientific basis -, as soon as possible, top government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Matsuno also described Beijing’s decision as “extremely regrettable.”

Tokyo has submitted a document to the WTO, the international body dealing with the rules of trade between nations, describing the ban as “totally unacceptable.”

Japan has also asked China to review the ban based on the rules of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement signed by both countries as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Before departing on Tuesday for Indonesia to participate in the ASEAN summit, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that he hoped to “explain Japan’s transparent handling of the treated water in collaboration with the IAEA to gain understanding and cooperation at multilateral and bilateral summits,” local news agency Kyodo reported.

On Aug. 24, the company operating the Fukushima nuclear power station began to release treated water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Neighboring countries such as China and South Korea have strongly opposed the release of the water citing safety concerns despite it having received the go-ahead from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which says it is consistent with international safety standards and would have “a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”

China responded to the release by announcing a ban on the import of all aquatic products from Japan to “prevent the risk of radioactive contamination.”

There have also been reports of misinformation campaigns and harassment of Japanese businesses in China, further worsening the already strained ties between the neighboring countries. EFE


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