Japan may bring S. Korea fish import ban to WTO

JIJI, Kyodo

The government is considering filing a suit with the World Trade Organization against South Korea’s all-out import ban on fisheries products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures, which was put into place following leaks of radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Citing the reason for the envisaged action, government sources said Tuesday that the South Korean measure, introduced Sept. 9, lacks scientific grounds.

The government is concerned that false information about the safety of Japanese agricultural, forestry and fisheries products could spread if South Korea keeps the ban in place.

An official from the Fisheries Agency met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Monday and asked the country to remove the ban immediately, while explaining steps to ensure food safety and contain the water leaks at the plant.

The South Koreans did not provide a specific response.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi suggested the possibility of suing South Korea over the import ban, but he noted that a decision has not yet been made yet.

Hayashi added that Tokyo wants South Korea to act in a calm manner based on scientific data, urging the country to remove the ban at the earliest chance.

“We will request an early repeal” of the import ban on products from the eight prefectures, Hayashi said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government “will continue to urge the South Korean government to lift the import ban based on scientific grounds.”

DPJ lawmakers to visit


Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Akihiro Ohata and other members of the opposition party will visit South Korea for two days starting Sunday, informed sources said Tuesday.

The DPJ team is trying to set up meetings with senior officials of South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic Party for talks on ways to improve ties between the two countries, the sources said.

The bilateral relationship has soured due to historical issues and the territorial row over a couple of rocky islets in the Sea of Japan, called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Ohata hopes that the trip will help pave the way for DPJ leader Banri Kaieda to visit South Korea, the sources said.