Japan welcomes WTO ruling on S. Korea's Fukushima food ban

TOKYO • Japan yesterday welcomed a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling that called for South Korea to lift an import ban on Japanese seafood, imposed after the Fukushima nuclear 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 ruled on Thursday 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," said top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga. "We request South Korea to correct swiftly and with sincerity its import restriction measures that were recognised as violating the WTO rules."

He added that the government would work to reverse similar restrictions put in place by other countries.

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

But talks broke down between the Asian neighbours, leading Japan to seek a WTO ruling in August the same year.

Following Friday's announcement, South Korea's trade ministry said in a statement: "The government has decided to appeal against the WTO's ruling in order to protect the people's health and safety.

"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."

China, Singapore, Macau, Russia and Taiwan all have partial import bans on fishery products from Japan, according to the fisheries agency. The European Union, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and some other countries require certificates of pre-export testing for radiation.

But the US, Canada, Malaysia and Thailand, among others, have lifted restrictions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Japan welcomes WTO ruling on S. Korea's Fukushima food ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe