China has extended a ban on Japanese seafood from 10 prefectures including Fukushima and is planning to step up checks on Japanese imports after its Asian neighbour plans to dump radioactive waste water into sea this summer.
The dumping which was just approved by UN’s nuclear security watchdog IAEA would see 1.3 million cubic meters/tons of radioactive waste water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, currently in tanks, being discharged into the Pacific Ocean.
Under the Japanese plan, the water will first be filtered to remove most radioactive elements except for tritium, an isotope that is difficult to separate from water, and diluted to well below international standards.
The decision although approved by UN has stirred wide opposition at home and abroad. Nearly three-fourths of South Koreans say they will eat less seafood after Japan starts releasing wastewater, according to a recent survey by the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements.
Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed Japan for treating the Pacific Ocean as its “own private sewer”. The statement dismissed the IAEA report as hasty and incomplete, and it said: “Japan has chosen to shift the risk of nuclear contamination onto the whole humanity.”
China already blocks seafood imports from 10 Japanese prefectures after Fukushima nuclear catastrophe caused by a tsunami in 2011. On top of that, Chinese customs will from now on conduct a “strict 100%” screening of certification documents for any edible aquatic product from Japan instead of doing spot checks to heavily scrutinize Japanese seafood.
Following China’s move, Hong Kong’s chief executive John Lee has announced this week that the city will introduce a widespread ban on Japanese seafood, which is set to impact the city’s dining industy with ubiquitous Japanese restaurants.
The boycott from China will likely affect Japan’s seafood industry. China ranks as Japan’s biggest seafood importer with JPY 87.1 billion (US$608.65 million) imports in 2022 , followed by Hong Kong (US$527.59 million) and the US (US$376.65 million), according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.