Seoul bans fish imports from eight prefectures

Kyodo, staff report

South Korea announced Friday it has placed an import ban on all fisheries products from eight Japanese prefectures deemed effected by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The decision was made earlier Friday after a meeting between government agencies chaired by Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and the ruling party.

According to officials, all fishery products from radiation-affected regions in Japan will be banned from entering South Korea regardless of the levels of contamination. The ban covers products from Fukushima, Aomori, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.

“The measure comes as our people’s concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation contaminated water are leaked daily from the site of Japan’s nuclear accident in Fukushima,” the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a press release, according to Yonhap news agency.

Tokyo responded Friday by saying Japan has stringent food safety standards based on international rules and regularly checks radiation levels. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged Seoul to “take actions based on scientific grounds,” stressing Japan is “strictly controlling safety” of fishery products based on international radiation standards.

The South Korean government said it will request additional radiation tests from Japan, if “even a minuscule dose of radioactive material, such as cesium or iodine, is detected in any products from any other region of Japan,” Yonhap reported.

The government also decided to lower the allowed dose of radiation in fisheries products from the current 370 becquerels per kilogram to 100 Bq/kg.

Yonhap quoted the ministry as saying the measures come “as the government concluded that it is unclear how the incident in Japan will progress in the future and that the information the Japanese government has provided so far is not enough to predict future developments.”

South Korea last year imported 5,000 tons of fishery products from the eight affected prefectures, out of a total of 40,000 tons of imports from Japan.

  • Banning fisheries products from Gunma and Tochigi….

    Someone needs to look at a map.

    • woosa

      really? so I take it you’ve never heard of distribution centers. you know…a place where producers send their products to be distributed to other locations. i believe it’s called logistics.

      • True, but fish from Iwate, for example, even if sent to a distribution center elsewhere, is going to be labeled “product of Iwate”. Fish and produce is not labeled according to where it was distributed from, but by where it was caught/grown.

        And even if that was the Korean Government’s train of thought (and I don’t think it was, I think they are on about freshwater fish, which is pointless as water leaking from Fukushima Dai-Ichi is going into the ocean, not upstream into the Tone River), well, all the affected coastal prefectures would have to do would be send their fish to Tokyo, Saitama, Akita, Yamagata or Niigata, right? They’re not on the list!

      • Manfred Deutschmann

        I applaud your trust in labeling of these goods.

      • If labeling on the Japanese side was truly considered a problem by Korea, why limit the ban to just 8 prefectures? It makes no sense – if you honestly think a Japanese exporter will simply relabel fish to hide their origin, you need to ban ALL imports from Japan.

    • Jim

      Too funny, but maybe they catch lake smelt there? i.e. スメルト

  • kyoko

    There is no sea in Gunma and Tochigi.

    I want to ask S.korea what kind of fish had imported from Gunma and Tochigi?

    • attila

      Aiyu, Iwana, Unagi, etc.

    • Jim

      probably smelt i.e. スメルト

    • inoue toshio 子どもを守れ!

      There should be rivers, lakes and fish farms in inland prefectures.

      • All of which would be currently unaffected by what is happening in Fukushima. And on what basis would that still be reason to ban fish from Gunma but not Tokyo or Saitama?

    • Yama

      I’ve had Ayu or other river fish when I traveled in those prefectures. I assume that’s what they have in mind.

      • kyoko

        There is no fact that exported fishery products to South Korea from Gunma and Tochigi.
        The South Korean government is presumed to be announced this decision without research even import experience.
        If say fishery products have been imported from Japan and are contaminated, the South Korean government should take over to investigate scientifically, and announced the results.

    • I assume Korea is on about freshwater fish as others have mentioned. However even so, it is pretty spectacularly ignorant to ban freshwater fish from Gunma and Tochigi based on contaminated water being leaked into the Pacific in Fukushima. I would really like to know how they think (if this is their thinking, that is) a sweetfish in Gunma is going to be contaminated by seawater that only exists several hundred kilometers away.

      Now, granted, some fish, like Salmon, do live in the ocean and swim up rivers where they are caught. However to get to Gunma and Tochigi they would have to swim up the Tone river, which also flows along the borders of Saitama. On that basis banning fish from Gunma without also banning fish from Saitama makes no sense.

      • Jim

        Gunma is riddled with hot-spots. Check out the plume map.

  • Steve Novosel

    The conspiracy minded among us might conclude that this was timed just before the final vote on the Olympics to make Japan look bad.

    • rael

      of course its always south koreas fault isnt it?/sarcasm.

  • abinico

    The entire Pacific is toast. In about 2 years time, contamination will have spread to include entire Atlantic. People in the know already are not eating seafood. Incredible what we have done to our home.

    • Revelation

      Whether we avoid the seafood or not won’t help the situation anyway. Now, if the contaminated water wasn’t dumped outside the plant… which it sounds like they’re going to do again……

  • Revelation

    Banning the fish is pointless when the contaminated water is already spread out, literally, everywhere. It’s only a matter of how close to home it is and chances are, all regions across Japan will distribute fish from the affected areas just to make profit. They’ve done it already since 2011, they’ll do it again.

    • “They’ve done it already since 2011”

      And your evidence for this claim is…?

      • Revelation

        I live in a Japanese community which hosts a number of Japanese seafood markets that receive fish directly from Japan. A lot of the fish has been labeled from Miyagi of the Tohoku region, and they’ve done nothing to cover up the fact. Additionally, a lot of said fish was labeled to be from China, but it’s all product sent to China from Japan- all the fish they could never sell otherwise.

      • “A lot of the fish has been labeled from Miyagi of the Tohoku region, and they’ve done nothing to cover up the fact.”

        Why would they cover it up? There is nothing wrong with fish from Miyagi, it is tested to standards 10 times more stringent than the local standards wherever you are.

        “Additionally, a lot of said fish was labeled to be from China, but it’s all product sent to China from Japan”

        If it is labelled “Product of China” how do you know it was from Japan originally? And even if it was, see above.

      • Revelation

        Miyagi flanks Fukushima, therefore it is a problem where fishing is concerned. And as for how I know certain fish from China is actually from Japan, the employees tell me so. Don’t ask, they won’t tell, but if you do inquire they will say so. Discreetly of course and only to certain individuals, but yes, they know how fisheries in Japan work. The consumers are the naive ones, sadly.

      • What part of “the fish are tested and are safe to eat” is too difficult for you to understand?

        What part of “Japanese laws on what is safe for consumption are the strictest in the world by a factor of 10” doesn’t translate for you?

        Don’t trust the government? Fine – buy some fish and test it yourself. Others have, and guess what they found?


        Have you found something? Do you have anything to contribute to the discussion other than insinuations, hearsay and outright falsehoods?


        Didn’t think so.

      • Revelation

        Are you having problems reading? You ask if I found something, and I told you what I know straight from native Japanese who know how their industries operate far better than most outside their world do understand. If you prefer to trust the bigwigs who only desire to have their way, go ahead and believe what you will. You are entitled to your own opinion regardless of how naive you are.
        Also, the fish may be safe to consume in small amounts, but if one consumes larger amounts of that fish over an extended period of time, that’s a completely different story.
        Chew on this; Japan has alliances across the world. In order to maintain their ties and prosper from them, there must be support between said allies. What would happen to Japan if they revealed the truth, that their fish will inevitably cause sickness to those whose choose to have it? They would lose far more than they already have and cannot afford to do so.