National

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.