Japan Presses Korea to End Seafood Import Ban

The Japanese government has threatened to file a complaint against Korea with the World Trade Organization unless it lifts an import ban on seafood from eight prefectures in Japan in the next few months.

The ban was imposed in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The government here is minded to oblige but is wary of the reaction from Korean consumers and would prefer to take its time.

Concerned ministries discussed the matter in a meeting "and reached a tentative conclusion that there is no scientific basis for the import ban," a government official said Monday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy apparently informed the meeting that it would be impossible for Korea to put up a legal defense should Japan take the matter to the WTO.

The WTO allows countries to impose temporary import bans on foreign products even without scientific grounds in pressing circumstances, such as concerns for public safety, but only for a "reasonable period of time." 

The government banned seafood imports from the eight Japanese prefectures in September last year after public concerns mounted following the dumping of hundreds of tons of radioactive water into the ocean near the Fukushima power plant, which experienced a triple meltdown in the 2011 tsunami.

Japan complained about the continuing ban during a WTO meeting in Geneva earlier this month.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 22, 2014 13:04 KST