China bans seafood imports from Japan after release of Fukushima wastewater into Pacific Ocean

The Chinese customs bureau said the immediate ban was put in place to prevent “the risk of radioactive contamination of food safety caused by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear contaminated water discharge.”

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Image Credit: Kyodo

Since Japan has begun discharging wastewater from the decommissioned Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, China announced a ban on all seafood imports from its neighboring country.

The Chinese customs bureau said the immediate ban was put in place to prevent “the risk of radioactive contamination of food safety caused by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear contaminated water discharge.”

“The Japanese side should not cause secondary harm to the local people and even the people of the world out of its own selfish interests,” China’s foreign ministry said.

While the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved the release of the radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, Japanese fishing groups opposed the plan because of fear of reputational damage.

Macau and Hong Kong enacted seafood import bans from 10 regions in Japan. According to government data, Japanese exports of aquatic products to China is the country’s biggest export market and made up 42 percent last year. Aquatic exports from Japan to Hong Kong was worth $600 million in 2022, EcoWatch reported.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is urging China to lift its aquatic products import ban and engage in talks about “the impact of the water’s release from a science-based perspective,” EcoWatch reported.

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), said there are no abnormalities identified with the discharge of the water and the measure of radioactivity in the water was below the limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“There are not going to be any health effects… There is no scientific reason to ban imports of Japanese food whatsoever,” Geraldine Thomas, a former London Imperial College professor of molecular pathology, said.

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