Japan yesterday attacked an “extremely regrettable” ruling by the WTO that upheld a ban by South Korea on some seafood from Fukushima imposed after the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster.
The WTO’s highest court overturned an earlier judgement from last year, handing Seoul a final victory in a legal battle that has dragged on for years.
“Even though the ruling did not acknowledge that South Korea’s measures comply with the WTO rules, it is extremely regrettable that Japan’s argument was not approved,” the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“There is no change in Japan’s position of demanding South Korea lift all the restriction measures, and we will pursue this via talks with South Korea,” the ministry said in a statement.
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono urged South Korea to “correct its policy,” but acknowledged that Japan had now run out of legal recourse.
Fearing radioactive contamination, Seoul imposed a partial ban on seafood imports from the region after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
Tokyo first took the row to the WTO in May 2015, requesting consultations — the first step under the WTO’s settlement system.
However, talks broke down, prompting Japan to seek a WTO ruling in August 2015.
The WTO panel last year ruled that South Korea should lift its ban, but the appellate court quashed this, the final word on the subject.
According to Fukushima authorities, four countries and regions — China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau — have maintained a ban on importing a broad range of locally produced foods.
South Korea, Singapore, the US and the Philippines have partial bans in place, but the majority of other countries and regions — including the EU — have lifted bans on imports or allow imports on condition that a certificate of inspection is attached.
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