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President Yoon Seok-yeol’s administration says ‘health and safety’ is a top priority, despite improving Seoul-Tokyo ties.
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South Korea has refused to lift a ban on Japanese seafood imports from the area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, despite warm relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
President Yoon Seok-yeol’s administration said Thursday that seafood imports from a tsunami-hit plant near the plant will “never come” to South Korea because of health concerns related to leaked radiation.
“With regard to the import of Japanese seafood products, the government’s stance remains unchanged that people’s health and safety is the top priority,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said in a statement.
South Korea has banned Japanese seafood imports from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, since 2013 because of fears of radiation contamination from plant meltdowns following an earthquake and tsunami.
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A historic summit earlier this month between Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, during which the two leaders agreed to put aside their countries’ difficult histories to focus on common security concerns, Japanese media The ban can be mitigated with reporting. The issue was among the topics under discussion.
Seoul and Tokyo, both close allies of the United States, have had a difficult relationship for decades due to outstanding issues arising from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
In 2019, the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of banning South Korea’s seafood, reversing an earlier ruling that had found the sanctions unfair years after the disaster.
A 2016 study by researchers from several Japanese universities found that most Japanese seafood was safe to eat and that the risk of contamination was “very low”.
The US Food and Drug Administration lifted its last remaining restrictions on Japanese food imports in 2021, following a similar move by the European Union.
Taiwan lifted a ban on Japanese food imports from the region last year.
In addition to South Korea, mainland China and Hong Kong have continued to block food imports from the region, including all dairy products and fruits and vegetables.
South Korea to keep Fukushima seafood ban despite thaw with Japan
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