Japan asks South Korea to lift ban on seafood products

TOKYO —

Agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Tuesday asked South Korea to lift its ban on all fishery product imports from eight Japanese prefectures.

Earlier this month, South Korea announced the ban on 50 fishery products from Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, Chiba, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures due to concerns about radiation contamination from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. 

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Hayashi urged that the ban be lifted at the earliest possible time.

Japanese Fisheries Agency official Kenji Kagawa has been in Seoul his week, lobbying for the ban to be lifted. He said the ban was not based on scientific grounds, Jiji Press reported.

The South Korean government said the ban was implemented due to the sharply increased concern over the flow of hundreds of ton of contaminated water into the ocean at the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant. 

South Korea imported 5,000 tons of fishery products from the eight affected prefectures last year, out of a total of 40,000 tons of imports from Japan.

Japan Today/Reuters

  • 19

    SauloJpn

    Lift the ban the earliest possible because "It's under control!!". Well... good luck selling that one!!!

  • 18

    In_japan

    Good Luck, after releasing radioactive water to ocean.

  • 16

    Mitch Cohen

    While it is understandable for the Japanese government to feel aggrieved at the 'lack of scientific evidence' regarding safety of the Japanese sea produce, the decision by the S Korean government was largely in response to huge decline in sales of S Korean sea produce in Korea, due to public fear which meant Koreans were staying away from sea produce altogether.

    Before anyone accuses Korea of deliberately trying to harm Japan's economy, let us not forget that Taiwan and China banned Japanese imports in 2011, but Korea continued to import thousands of tons of Japanese seafood, until the radioactive water leaks became public knowledge in the recent months.

  • 15

    Maria

    Really? We don't even need scientists, do we? We can all read the headline right next to this one:

    "1,130 tons of tainted Fukushima water dumped in sea after typhoon"

  • 14

    smithinjapan

    On the same day that TEPCO announced it released 1,170 tonnes of tainted water into the sea? I'm sure that'll help things.

  • 13

    Dennis711

    OK, so I am officially speechless. The Abe cabinet must believe there is no danger themselves which is more unbelievable than them asking Korea to lift the important ban. God (or Gods) save Japan.

  • 12

    hatsoff

    Well I suppose a ban should be based on evidence, and although sellers were using radiation counters in the fish markets last month to reassure customers we didn't hear of any fish that actually were contaminated. On the other hand, it keeps the pressure on the government to actually fix the Fukushima problem. And that's not a bad thing at all.

  • 12

    sfjp330

    South Korea goverment is doing the right decision to to protect it's own people. There is a problem with TEPCO and the Japanese goverment. There is a lack of data on levels of strontium-90 in the waters off Fukushima. We know that groundwater now leaking into the Pacific Ocean including some contamination from leaking tanks that has much higher levels of that particular substance. Strontium 90 has potentially greater health risks than cesium isotopes because it becomes concentrated in the bones of fish and humans. The Japanese goverment should provide more accurate data.

  • 11

    CrazyJoe

    In one ear and out the other.

  • 10

    waltery

    "He said the ban was not based on scientific grounds" whos science are they using? Sure we can trust the Gove and TEPCOs science, its been so reliable so far.

  • 10

    Farmboy

    The thing is, if you want to be 100 % sure your fish is radiation free, you have to test every fish, and the testing has to be done by someone impartial, not by the people selling the fish. This isn't going to happen.

    Maybe the only way this will work is to do the sales the way some merchants are already doing: provide the equipment, and let the customer test. I don't see how to do that on such a huge scale, though, and the proper equipment is very costly..

  • 10

    windandsea

    .. ban was not based on scientific ground...

    Since when in this crisis has science played a role in policy making?

  • 9

    BertieWooster

    Years ago, Japan sold products that were exciting and genuinely useful.

    The Transistor Radio, the Walkman, these were amazing things when they first came out.

    And now, in the midst of an unsolved massive nuclear power station disaster, it's trying to sell (possibly) contaminated fish and nuclear power technology.

    Why doesn't Abe realise that his major, major priority is to a) clean up the Fukushima mess and b) tell the world loud and clear how he fixed it (with scientific proof, of course).

  • 9

    smithinjapan

    I'd have a good laugh seeing Japan try to take this to the WTO. Maybe they can send a TEPCO head to do it and argue in their defense.

    It's good that nations like SK are putting the needed pressure on Japan. Perhaps the government might live up to its words that it gave at the Olympics and put a stop to the problems at Fukushima. It seems pretty clear to me that TEPCO used the typhoon as an excuse to dump an excessive amount of water it was storing into the ocean, and this is more than perfect grounds to back up why any nation would ban fish exports from Japan.

  • 8

    kurisupisu

    Does Japan think the South Koreans are stupid? Already Japanese cancer rates are soaring due to contamination! Why would Korea with a rapidly declining population wish their citizens to die prematurely too?

    With ever increasing radioactive releases Japan is asking that Korea eat more of the same?

    I am incredulous .....

  • 8

    Mitch Cohen

    Given that Japanese Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi suggested that there was possibility of bringing a lawsuit against Korea via the WTO, I don't think Japan is 'asking' Korea. More like demanding with the threat of litigation.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/09/17/national/japan-may-bring-s-korea-fish-import-ban-to-wto/#.Ujjhr9KmhNw

  • 8

    chucky3176

    Japan has threatened South Korean government that Japan will take South Korea to the WTO, if SK doesn't resume the imports. South Korea replied, we can't do it because we've been having terrible time getting any answers from Japan, other then the old "trust us, everything is OK, our seafood is safe". Japan then angrily reply back, "you did this to make us look bad in front of the Olympic committee to sabotage our Olympic bid!, we're taking you to world court!". South Korea: "go right ahead, I doubt you'll get anywhere, there's is no precedence".

    Korea is Japan's largest market for fish exports, taking half of all Japanese exports last year.

    > South Korea imported 5,000 tons of fishery products from the eight affected prefectures last year, out of a total of 40,000 tons of imports from Japan.

  • 8

    budgie

    Most popular threads today:

    1 Japan asks Korea to lift ban on seafood 2 1000 tons of radioactive water dumped in sea.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    The fisheries minister is pointing his plea at the wrong party. He should be ordering TEPCO to get their shit together and stop the flow of irradiated water into the pacific. Of course, there is very little evidence to support the SK's decision, but there is tonnes of tainted water going into the ocean and it has to be accumulating in the environment. Personally, I'd like to see more countries do the same as Sth Korea to pressure the J-Gov to get this BS under control.

  • 7

    Dennis Bauer

    @BertieWooster

    Soon Japan will export exciting glow in the dark Sushi!

  • 7

    Georg Eschert

    smart Koreans

  • 6

    smithinjapan

    Winandsea: it hasn't near enough, and now that it is the victim card is coming out again. Even if you believe the TEPCO promises that it's all 'safety' and the radiation levels pose no threat, what's wrong with people playing it safe? I wish Japan would.

  • 6

    AKBfan

    Why isn't this fish being sold in Japan? Japan is a HUGE importer of seafood. surely there ust be a market for these products here?

  • 6

    Michael Grant

    Don't give in, South Korea! Help keep the pressure on the Japanese government until this mess is cleaned up!

  • 5

    chucky3176

    The scientific evidence comes from Korea. Out of 67 cases that South Korean government tested, 65 of the containers that Japan said was "safe", failed the Japanese government's own safety radiation limit. Another fact, Japan said everything was under control in 2011. South Korea kept importing the fish from Fukushima, with no Korean government inspections, totally trusting Japan's declarations. Two years later, Japan reveals they've been leaking radiation all along from day one. Rumors of Japanese radiation fish go wild in Korea. The Korean government gets involved, and threatens to jail anyone who spread "false rumors" about the Japanese fish. With daily lies after lies from Japanese TEPCO, Japan PM Abe's comments to the Olympics committee happens. By this time Korean citizens, wondering whose government Korean government is, are voting with their wallets, avoiding all fish - totally shocking the fishing industry. With the fishing industry about to collapse if nothing is done, the Korean government is forced to ban the Fukushima fish which they should have done two years ago - like Taiwan, China, and US did long time ago.

  • 5

    TakahiroDomingo

    there's one thing i don't get: japan is accused world-wide of eating all fish, because japanese are greedy fish lovers (just like me), but there's enough fish here that japan can even export it? and that japan's economy relies of exporting fish? strange, really.

  • 4

    Get Real

    The amount of imported European fish and other food products I see indicates that less and less Japanese people are swallowing the old 国産だから安心 mantra.

  • 4

    sf2k

    Maybe eat their own tainted fish instead of selling it to others while importing clean fish

  • 4

    Francis Urquhart

    Rules should not be discriminatory and should be fair, rational and scientific. Korea should set some standards and test the radiation of the imports. If the test result is above the limit, they should ban the import.

    The way I'm reading it, it's the SK people who have decided not to eat fish in spite of their government's assurances, effectively threatening their entire fishing industry. I guess the government just had to act.

  • 4

    slowguy2

    "Great. But why cannot Korean government show the test results to Japan as scientific basis for the import ban?

    Why can't Japan demonstrate to the Korean people's satisfaction that Japanese fish are safe? Let Mr. Abe and his cohorts just take a vacation trip to Fukushima with their wives, children and grandchildren, and have a big banquet prepared with local seafood. And invite foreign journalists from all the major news media outlets -- BBC, CNN, FoxNews, etc. etc., to eat with them. If they comply, that will go a long way to reassure the world that the Japanese govenrnment is being honest and sincere when it insists its fish are safe to eat. And just to make sure everything really is fair, Abe should also demand China, US and Taiwan lift the ban on Japanese fishery products. Just making demands on the South Koreans looks bad for Japan, no?

  • 3

    chucky3176

    what kwatt says is partially true. Thailand for instance have tons of Fukushima peaches from Japan last year and this year, based on the "scientific" data provided to them by Japan, which Thailand trusts without a hint of doubt. But why is it that Japan have problems selling them to other parts of Japan?

  • 3

    nigelboy

    Nigelboy, none of your long posts explains why Japan is adopting such a hard-line approach to Korea's 2013 ban, to the point of threatening a lawsuit, but hardly making noise about Taiwan's 2011 ban.

    As I explained already, Korea had already banned imorts over 50 products prior to this recent overall ban despite the fact that NONE of the shipments to Korea had even come close to exceeding the 100 bq/kg (most of them less than 10 bq/kg) let alone the higher limit Korea has (370 bq/kg for cesium) on their own domestic products for foodstuffs. While other nations (namely Russia and Vietnam recently) are working towards deregulation and lifting the ban (based on track record on negligible radiation detected on their shipments from Japan over the course of more than year and a half), what Korea is doing is just the opposite despite the track record.

  • 2

    Farmboy

    According to this, fish disputes are a medium term problem, since in 40 more years there will be no more fish.

    http://animal.discovery.com/endangered-species/no-more-fish.htm

    I don't really buy this completely, but the trend could be real. Anyway, start working on your jellyfish recipes, as they will reportedly survive.

  • 2

    Francis Urquhart

    The way I'm reading it, it's the SK people who have decided not to eat fish in spite of their government's assurances, effectively threatening their entire fishing industry. I guess the government just had to act.

    Further to what I wrote above, it's also revealing that the people have acted to bend the government to their will, so effectively having a government that serves the people. Could it be that this is one reason why this issue isn't getting sorted out in Japan? Imagine if all the - for want of a better word - 'common' people started demanding action. But they won't, because it's all happening a long way off in backward Tohoku inaka and doesn't concern the rest of Japan, so the people are led to believe. And of course, being Japanese they believe what they are told to believe. And now they've got the Tokyo Olympics to use as the smiley face.

    Recently on Wall Street Journal was written the following: Oxford University physicist Wade Allison, who has written and spoken widely against exaggerating radiation risks, estimated that one could eat a ton of such slightly contaminated food—or even drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation. Thought it was interesting.

    I'd be delighted for he, or she, to go to Fukushima and prove it personally. Oh and he or she won't be needing a radiation suit or any of that silly nonsense because it's all harmless!

  • 1

    AlexNoaburg

    my friend's 8 year old cat just died from lymph node cancer. unsure if this is related to Fukushima, but I don't think selling irradiated canned fish is banned and I recall children and babies getting screened. Was it thyroid, lymph node or both?

  • 1

    Gaijin Desi

    South Korean must show below video to Japanese http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3QZ6MGPBog

  • 1

    Altruist777

    Recently on Wall Street Journal was written the following: Oxford University physicist Wade Allison, who has written and spoken widely against exaggerating radiation risks, estimated that one could eat a ton of such slightly contaminated food—or even drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation. Thought it was interesting.

  • 1

    sfjp330

    Reality is that TEPCO and Japan Goverment is in chaos. Completely out of control at Fukushima, melted reactor cores that is contaminating Pacific Ocean with full range of radioactive material affecting the environment and seafood products. If you look at the response by TEPCO and J-goverment, the problem is that in their ideology, it gives the answer before they look at the evidence. So you have to mold the evidence to get the answer that you've already decided you've got to have. J-goverment knows all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time. You tend to govern by assertion and attacks which Japan has done poorly. This is what South Korea is faced with.

  • 0

    some14some

    wish they should urge China also because the market there is much bigger than SKorea.

  • 0

    Nipporinoel

    One answer fits all situations in Japan.

    This is most " regretable" but I'm sure SK will " sincerely reflect on the situation", "collect all relevant information swiftly " and "take appropriate action speedily ".

    Wise decision SK.

  • 0

    Bondsan

    unfortunate ... but surely this has to affect more than just fish products ...

  • 0

    chucky3176

    Nigelboy, the Korean government only followed Japanese government standards without question. The maximum limit was set following Japan's standards, before Japan lowered the limit, and the Korean government did not. It's been one reason why Korean citizens were very upset with the Korean government who did their best to protect Japanese government's position and Japan's fishing industry. I suspect that's due to the fact that the Korean government also wanted to protect Korea's own nuclear and fishing industries. But it's ludicrous of Japanese charges that this is an attempt by Korea to sabotage the Tokyo Olympic bid - which only makes Japanese look immature and childish.

    As for radiation counts, nobody really knows what is the safe level in the long term. The only perfectly safe limit is zero radiation. Like someone already said, eating one fish is like getting one x-ray. That's fine, but what if you eat two fish, and what if you eat fish/fish products/sea food products everyday? At All of a sudden, you've consumed 100 bq/kg times by how many times you had them per week, per month, per year. Why would anyone want to take any chances with their lives or their family's lives, because of what your government told you is safe?

    Koreans are not like Japanese who are like apathetic sheeps, and just accept their government claims. Actually no one should trust any government when it comes to safety, especially in the matter of nuclear safety. It's up to individuals to protect their own safety, the governments aren't going to protect you, they have their own agendas. But in this case, the Korean government after being in bed with the Japanese government, is finally being forced to act by the Korean citizens only after Japan finally admitted that they've been dumping irradiated water into the ocean.

  • 0

    chucky3176

    No Nigelboy, Japan's 100 bq/kg was only recent. It was over 300 bq/kg before they brought it down. Korea only followed Japan, until Japan brought it down. Korean government have been ripped to pieces by Koreans for following Japan's advice. Plus, nobody trusts Japan's government to do an accurate radiation count anyway.

    And the below, doesn't even make sense. Either the fish are safe to eat now, or they aren't. Japanese can eat all their fish if they want, don't make others buy and eat them. The stupidity are the Japanese who believe everything what their dishonest government tells them. Thus the explanation why Fukushima beaches are still open and children swimming in them.

    Just appalled by the stupidity. Taiwan, much like other nations including Korea (on certain products) did it right after the accident and the movement now , based on Japan's own revision of 100 bq/kg which is among the lowest in the world after one year of the accident, is toward loosening the restrictions much like Russia and Vietnman just recently. What Korea is doing is backwards. And to note, without scientific reasoning.

  • 0

    virgo98

    @Mitch Cohen

    Nigelboy, I know your heart bleeds for the poor Japanese fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by the decision and I understand your anger at the Korean government's decision not to import Japanese seafood,

    Actually, the fishermen threatened their livelihoods are not Japanese, but Korean fishermen. Just think about the trade volume between the two countries. As Korean people have doubts about all kinds of seafood products, Korean fishermen are in severe trouble as their fish cannot sell either.

    Japanese government is protesting against Korea about the ban because they want to prevent harmful rumors from spreading further, or actually from affecting the reputation of other products from Japan globally.

    I think this fuss in Korea has been caused because Korean people are not relying on their government, or their checking system on food. That is, they may be not believing other Koreans. Actually, I hear there are lots of food scandals happen every year in Korea. So, false rumors are easily spread, just like the candle demonstration against US beef.

    In Japan, although fish from Tohoku on the market has been decreased, we still buy the products even from Fukushima area. Because we are considerably (even though perfectly) trusting our checking system that the only checked food come to our table. I'm not going to say there is no misconduct, but we all know Japanese checking system is much better than Korean or Chinese, that is, we still believe other Japanese.

    I found an article with the same opinion of mine. Sorry this is in Japanese, but I hope you can grasp the content through online translation.

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130922-00000538-san-kr

    It may be better for Korea to establish a trustworthy checking system of food in the future. It would be the public's interest in any case.

    By the way, the amount of radiation is higher in Seoul than in Tokyo, even higher than in Fukushima. Did you know that?

  • -1

    FightingViking

    @AlexNoaburg

    I cannot answer your question but my dog died of cancer from drinking tainted (radioactive ?) water in March this year...

  • -1

    nigelboy

    The scientific evidence comes from Korea. Out of 67 cases that South Korean government tested, 65 of the containers that Japan said was "safe", failed the Japanese government's own safety radiation limit

    If you are referring to the statement of a certain Korean lawmaker, that's not what he said.

    He stated that out of 64 shipments of fishery products with radiation certificates from Japan that were tested by the Korean government, 62 "detected" levels of radiation. However, according to the Korean ministry officials, the Japanese certificates simply state "undetected" to levels below 10 bq/kg hence the mismatch of standards.

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130911-00000031-scn-kr

    Speaking of mismatch of standards, the Japanese government standard for foodstuffs is 100 bq/kg. According to Japan's fishery officials, not a single case of fishery products exported to Korea have exceeded that amount.

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/world/news/20130916-OYT1T00567.htm?from=ylist

    But here's the kicker. One must think that possibly Korea's standards are higher. WRONG!!! Per Yonhap, there maximum is 370 bq/kg when all of this fuss was going on which is nearly FOUR times the maximum allowable level of Japan.

    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2013/09/02/68/0501000000AEN20130902003600320F.html

  • -1

    nigelboy

    I understand your anger at the Korean government's decision not to import Japanese seafood, but I must ask why I don't see you make these long arguments against Taiwan who banned Japanese imports in 2011. Why doesn't Japan sue Taiwan for their unscientific and baseless ban, like it threatened to do against Korea?

    There is no anger. Just appalled by the stupidity. Taiwan, much like other nations including Korea (on certain products) did it right after the accident and the movement now , based on Japan's own revision of 100 bq/kg which is among the lowest in the world after one year of the accident, is toward loosening the restrictions much like Russia and Vietnman just recently. What Korea is doing is backwards. And to note, without scientific reasoning.

    Nigelboy, the Korean government only followed Japanese government standards without question

    No Chucky. Korean government has there own maximum tolerance level (bq/kg) which is NEARLY FOUR TIMES higher than that of Japan. In other words, Japan was exporting to Korea, ONE FOURTH the level of maximum allowed in Korea.

    Korea 370 bq/kg>Japan 100 bq/kg>The 62 shipments from Japan ~ less than 10 bq/kg

    As for radiation counts, nobody really knows what is the safe level in the long term. The only perfectly safe limit is zero radiation.

    We do. The Europeans have been consuming them for nearly three decades.

  • -2

    John Taylor

    sell your irradiated fish to N korea

  • -2

    Mitch Cohen

    Nigelboy, I know your heart bleeds for the poor Japanese fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by the decision and I understand your anger at the Korean government's decision not to import Japanese seafood, but I must ask why I don't see you make these long arguments against Taiwan who banned Japanese imports in 2011. Why doesn't Japan sue Taiwan for their unscientific and baseless ban, like it threatened to do against Korea?

    You make a long and passionate argument why Koreans should continue to eat Japanese seafood imports, but the Korean government made a decision to protect its own fishing industry, as Korean governments reassurances failed to ease public fear and even Korean seafood sales were dropping.

    I'm sorry that the health of the Japanese fishing industry isn't the top priority of the Korean government.

  • -2

    nigelboy

    No Nigelboy, Japan's 100 bq/kg was only recent. It was over 300 bq/kg before they brought it down

    Read people's post carefully, please.

    "Taiwan, much like other nations including Korea (on certain products) did it right after the accident and the movement now , based on Japan's own revision of 100 bq/kg which is among the lowest in the world after one year of the accident, is toward loosening the restrictions much like Russia and Vietnman just recently. "

    Korea only followed Japan, until Japan brought it down.

    You have your own standard which is 370 bq/kg for cesium in foodstuffs. The Yonhap link I provided states so.

    And the below, doesn't even make sense. Either the fish are safe to eat now, or they aren't.

    Again, according to your maximum limit of 370 bq/kg and the fact that those were tested were within or below 10 bq/kg, the answer is yes.

  • -2

    Mitch Cohen

    Nigelboy, none of your long posts explains why Japan is adopting such a hard-line approach to Korea's 2013 ban, to the point of threatening a lawsuit, but hardly making noise about Taiwan's 2011 ban.

    How about some consistency?

    Why should Korea continue to import Japanese seafood and risk a collapse of the Korean fishing industry?

  • -3

    Scnadal.Lova

    yea i think North Korea would take it.

  • -4

    kwatt

    It seems that S Korea is banning all seafoods from some prefectures in Japan but other countries are banning some seafoods with scientific data on how much these seafoods are contaminated with radiation.

  • -5

    CH3CHO

    Rules should not be discriminatory and should be fair, rational and scientific. Korea should set some standards and test the radiation of the imports. If the test result is above the limit, they should ban the import.

    chucky3176Sep. 18, 2013 - 10:11AM JST

    The scientific evidence comes from Korea. Out of 67 cases that South Korean government tested, 65 of the containers that Japan said was "safe", failed the Japanese government's own safety radiation limit

    Great. But why cannot Korean government show the test results to Japan as scientific basis for the import ban?

  • -10

    fds

    lift the ban already ! didn't stop japan from getting the olympics like you intended ! hahaha!

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