South Korea banned all seafood imports from Japan, a decision that could hurt an already struggling fisheries industry amid growing radiation fears.
On Friday, Seoul widened its existing ban on 50 fishery products from eight prefectures after Tokyo said last month that tons of contaminated water had flowed into the sea off the Fukushima coast.
“The decision was made as public concerns are growing after radiation-contaminated water has leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant,” South Korea said in a statement.
South Koreans accused the Japanese government of trying to cover up the crisis and urged Seoul to take action.
“If nothing was done, criticism would have been directed at the South Korean government. It likely believed there was a need to placate the public by taking serious measures,” a diplomatic source in Seoul said.
Japan downplayed rising fears in South Korea, a major expert market for Japanese fishermen, stressing its fishery products were safe and underwent radiation inspections.
“We are conducting safety controls based on international standards,” said Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary. “If radiation readings are above the standards, shipment will be stopped.”
Fishing has been banned from areas close to Fukushima, but officials say other fishing grounds were unaffected as irradiated water is quickly diluted in the sea.
But the extended ban could shroud the future of Japan’s ailing fisheries industry, said Hiroshi Kishi, head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image: Takashi Hososhima/Flickr