China Maintains Bans on Japanese Food Imports, Citing Safety Concerns

China has announced that it will uphold its bans on the import of food from approximately one-fifth of Japanese prefectures, citing safety reasons. The decision comes in response to Japan’s recent decision to release nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. As the largest buyer of Japan’s seafood exports, China will also intensify its scrutiny of food documents, particularly those concerning aquatic products, from other regions of Japan, according to a statement from Chinese customs.

The customs authority of China emphasized its commitment to enhancing the detection and monitoring of radioactive substances to ensure the safety of imported food from Japan. By maintaining the ban on food imports from ten Japanese prefectures, China aims to prevent the potential export of radioactive-contaminated Japanese food and safeguard the food safety of its consumers.

China has publicly expressed strong opposition to Japan’s plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, recently granted Japan approval to begin the process of releasing over a million metric tons of water used to cool the plant’s fuel rods, following the devastating tsunami in 2011.

However, Chinese customs disputed the conclusions of the IAEA report, stating that it did not fully reflect the perspectives of all the experts involved in the assessment process and that the conclusions lacked unanimous endorsement from the experts.

The ongoing trade restrictions on Japanese food imports underscore China’s determination to prioritize the safety and well-being of its citizens. By maintaining stringent measures, including intensified inspections and bans on certain prefectures, China aims to ensure that imported food from Japan meets the necessary safety standards.

The decision by China has significant implications for Japan’s food export industry, particularly the seafood sector, given China’s status as the largest market for Japanese seafood. The bans and increased scrutiny on food imports will likely pose challenges for Japanese exporters, who will need to navigate the stringent regulations and address Chinese concerns regarding food safety.

As the situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen whether there will be any changes in China’s stance regarding the import of Japanese food. Both countries will need to engage in dialogue and cooperation to address safety concerns, fostering trust and ensuring the well-being of consumers in the process.

Please note that the information provided is based on available sources, and developments in the situation may influence the future decisions and actions taken by the respective governments involved.

© Thomson Reuters 2023.

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