Sat, Feb 24, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Japan lauds WTO ruling on S Korean seafood import ban


Japan yesterday welcomed a WTO ruling that called for South Korea to lift an import ban on Japanese seafood, imposed after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

However, the issue is expected to continue after South Korea said it would appeal the WTO’s decision and had no plans to repeal the restrictions.

The WTO on Thursday ruled on Tokyo’s complaint against Seoul filed in 2015, concluding that South Korea’s restrictions were inconsistent with the rules of the global trade watchdog.

“Japan welcomes the WTO’s panel report, which reflected our position,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

“We request South Korea to correct swiftly and with sincerity its import restriction measures that were recognized as violating the WTO rules,” he said.

The Japanese government would work to reverse similar restrictions put in place by other nations on the import of Japanese food after the nuclear disaster, he added.

Japan took its food row with Seoul to the WTO in May 2015 and requested consultations — the first step under the global body’s dispute settlement system.

However, talks broke down between the Asian neighbors, leading Japan to seek a WTO ruling in August 2015.

“The government has decided to appeal against the WTO’s ruling in order to protect the people’s health and safety,” the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement, following yesterday’s announcement. “Despite this ruling, the current import ban will remain in force, and the government will make its utmost efforts to ensure radiation-contaminated food does not reach the dinner table.”

Suga called Seoul’s decision to appeal “extremely regrettable, as the ruling was issued after two-and-a-half years of process.”

Taiwan, China, Singapore, Macau and Russia all have partial import bans on fishery products from Japan, according to the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

The EU, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries, as well as Hong Kong, require certificates of pre-export testing for radiation.

However, the US, Canada, Malaysia and Thailand, among others, have lifted restrictions and special requirements for imports of fishery products from Japan.

The European Parliament last year warned against easing checks imposed on food products from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

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