China and South Korea see sharp drop in Japanese seafood imports

Salmon, scallops and octopus sashimi Photo: from IC

Imports of Japanese aquatic products by China and South Korea plunged in August due to Japan’s dumping of wastewater contaminated with nuclear substances, according to customs data.

The decline will intensify and lead to a collapse of Japan’s fishing industry, experts say.

In August, China’s seafood imports from Japan fell 67.6 percent from a year earlier to 149.02 million yuan ($20.44 million), following a decline of 28.5 percent in July, Kyodo News reported, citing Chinese customs data released Monday.

China banned imports of all seafood from Japan starting August 24, when Japan began dumping contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on September 5 that the international community was closely monitoring the risks that Japan’s measures posed to the marine environment and public safety, and had taken preventive measures. Consequently.

“The measures we have adopted are completely legitimate, reasonable and necessary,” Mao said.

Another neighbor of Japan, South Korea, has also reduced its seafood imports from Japan for the same reason. In August, seafood imports from Japan declined for the fifth consecutive month, both in value and volume, Yonhap News Agency reported.

According to data released by South Korean customs on Monday, South Korea imported seafood worth $7.81 million from Japan in August, down 34.8 percent year-on-year. while the volume fell by 24.9% to 1,622 tonnes.

Officials from South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said the government would maintain a ban on imports of aquatic products from eight prefectures in Japan, including Fukushima, and maintain a nuclear radiation detection system to ensure the public security.

Japan’s water spill has opened a Pandora’s box and the damage to Japan’s fishing industry will worsen, Lü Xiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China and South Korea are important export destinations for Japanese seafood products. The bans imposed by both countries to protect their citizens will have a significant impact on Japanese seafood exports, he said.

In 2022, Japan’s seafood exports reached $1.97 billion, with China and South Korea accounting for about 45% of the total. The bans imposed by the two countries will affect about $870 million in business, Jiefang Daily reported.

If Japan continues to dump wastewater contaminated with nuclear substances, it will face more international condemnation, which could potentially devastate Japan’s seafood export market, Lü said.

The Chinese government has repeatedly urged Japan to stop water spills.

The Japanese government should fully address the international community’s major concerns over the release of Fukushima-contaminated water, shoulder its moral responsibilities and obligations under international law, and stop discharging such water, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. in a proposal from China on the reform and development of global governance on Wednesday.

The Japanese government should show sincerity and fully communicate with neighboring countries, accept strict international monitoring and ensure that contaminated water is disposed of in a scientific, safe and transparent manner, according to the proposal.

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