President Yoon Seok-yeol’s administration said “health and safety” was the top priority despite improving Seoul-Tokyo relations.
South Korea has ruled out lifting a ban on Japanese seafood imports from the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant despite warming relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
Seafood imports from the vicinity of the tsunami-hit factory will ‘never enter’ South Korea due to health concerns from radiation leaks, President Yoon Seok’s administration said on Thursday. -yeol.
“Regarding the import of Japanese seafood, the government’s position remains unchanged that people’s health and safety is the top priority,” the presidential office said in a statement, the agency reported. South Korean press Yonhap.
South Korea has banned imports of Japanese seafood from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, since 2013 over fears of radiation contamination following a factory meltdown following an earthquake and a tsunami.
A historic peak between Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier this month, in which the two leaders agreed to put aside their country’s difficult history to focus on common security issues, had sparked speculation about the fact that the ban could be relaxed, with Japanese media reporting that the issue was among the topics under discussion.
Seoul and Tokyo, both of which are close allies of the United States, have enjoyed a rocky relationship for decades due to outstanding issues stemming from Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
In 2019, the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of South Korea’s seafood ban, reversing an earlier ruling that found the restrictions were unjustified years after the disaster.
A 2016 study by researchers from several Japanese universities found that most Japanese seafood was safe to eat and the risk of contamination was “very low”.
The US Food and Drug Administration lifted its last restrictions on Japanese food imports in 2021, following a similar move by the European Union.
Taiwan lifted restrictions on Japanese food imports from the region last year.
Besides South Korea, mainland China and Hong Kong continue to block food imports from the region, including all dairy products and fruits and vegetables.