The Japanese government is dispatching a high-ranking Ministry official to Seoul to ask the Korean government to lift a ban on imports of fish products from waters near Fukushima region. There are also reports that Tokyo wants to sue Korea at the World Trade Organization.
On Friday, Tokyo Electric Power Company tested a sample of underground water collected near a holding tank that contained 300 tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and found that it contained 36 times more radioactive tritium than a sample gathered from the same place and tested five days ago.
A researcher at TEPCO conceded that it was "impossible" to contain the radioactive water leak from the devastated power plant. An expert dispatched to Fukushima from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the situation is far more complicated and difficult than the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the U.S. in 1979. Yet the Japanese government claims that it is unfair for Korea to ban fish products from Fukushima.
Concerns were raised since April that radioactive water was leaking from the underground storage tanks, but the Japanese government refused to listen. It was not until July that Tokyo finally admitted the scale of the disaster, and even then the Japanese government said there were no problems since the storage tanks were far away from the ocean. The Japanese government has lost all credibility.
China banned imports of food products and even animal feed from Fukushima and 10 neighboring prefectures two years ago. Japan said nothing. But now that Seoul has taken belated steps to ban fish imports, Tokyo is ranting and raving and even threatening to take the matter to the WTO. This can only lead to suspicions that Japan is trying to use Koreans as straw men to reassure the suffering of fishermen in that region.
The WTO has never taken on a suit involving radioactive food products that could potentially harm public health, so Tokyo does not stand much of a chance of having its case heard. Instead of wasting time with grandstanding, Japan should take steps to contain the radioactive contamination and regain the confidence of the international community.