Chinese removal of Japanese seafood exporters’ processing facilities: concerns over exports suspension

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
China’s General Administration of Customs

Chinese customs authorities have removed Japanese seafood exporters’ processing facilities from their official database, as reported by The Yomiuri Shimbun. While processing facility registration is required to export Japanese seafood products to China, effective Friday, all searches on the database no longer show any Japanese exporters’ facilities. Japanese seafood exporters who had previously registered claim they have had no communication from the Chinese side and are unsure whether the registration has been revoked permanently or temporarily suspended.

This move comes as a response to the release of treated water from Japan’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. In August of last year, the Chinese government prohibited imports of Japanese seafood products entirely, so there will likely be no significant impact from the removal of the registration. However, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries is closely monitoring the situation.

A Japanese government official stated, “This could be a move associated with the suspension of imports of Japanese seafood products. There has been no explanation from the Chinese side, and their intentions are unclear.” As tensions have continued to brew between Japan and China, it is important for Japan to carefully assess China’s motives behind this action.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries reports that 47 Japanese businesses had registered their facilities with Chinese customs authorities to export processed seafood products to China by the end of March. Of these, nine were located in Hokkaido, the top seafood producing prefecture. Officials are working to confirm with the registered businesses the details of this sudden action by Chinese authorities. According to industry sources, even after the suspension of imports by the Chinese government last year, both sides maintained contact, with several communications being made.

Reactions from industry officials in Japan have varied. One seafood processing company official expressed frustration, stating, “We have established a production system in expectation of resuming exports. I’m surprised by the suddenness [of the move],” while another said the move was “unexpected, but they [the Chinese authorities] will likely contact us later.”

Japan’s seafood industry has continued to face hurdles in exporting to China, but the hope was that this situation would eventually improve. A representative from the Fisheries Agency stated, “We will continue to work towards promoting exports and taking advantage of export opportunities to China.” Meanwhile, the government is looking into providing financial support to affected businesses. This is not the first time Japan’s seafood sector has faced difficulties with China. In the past, Japan had to drastically reduce seafood exports to China as demand declined due to anti-Japanese sentiment.

Overall, the reasons for this sudden removal of Japanese seafood exporters’ facility registrations remain unclear. As both Japan and China continue to experience political tension, it is important to approach the situation with caution. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries is closely following the situation, and industry officials and the Japanese government are eagerly awaiting further details to come from the Chinese side.


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