China’s Seafood Imports from Japan Plummet by 67% in August

by Ella

Beijing, China – Chinese imports of seafood from Japan witnessed a significant decline last month, attributed to Tokyo’s commencement of the release of treated wastewater from the beleaguered Fukushima nuclear power plant. According to China’s customs authority, imports of Japanese seafood recorded a staggering 67.6% decrease in August compared to the same month the previous year.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has highlighted China as the world’s foremost importer of Japanese seafood. In the preceding year, Asia’s largest economy imported seafood valued at 84.4 billion yen ($571 million; £461 million) from its neighboring country.


This precipitous drop in imports coincided with Japan’s preparations to initiate the disposal of treated wastewater and in the aftermath of the commencement of the release. Since the catastrophic 2011 tsunami that inflicted severe damage upon the Fukushima nuclear facility, over one million tonnes of treated wastewater had accumulated on-site. Japan initiated the discharge process on August 24, with a 30-year timeline for completion. On the same day, China declared a blanket ban on all imports of Japanese seafood.


During this period, concerns were also expressed by fishing industry groups in Japan and the wider region about the potential repercussions on their livelihoods resulting from the release.


China’s decision to impose an import ban came despite Japan’s assurances regarding the safety of the discharged water, a sentiment echoed by many scientists. Additionally, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog endorsed the plan. Tokyo emphasized that similar wastewater releases are common at other nuclear power plants in China and France.


Japan has consistently provided reports affirming that seawater near the Fukushima region exhibits no detectable levels of radioactivity. The release of the treated wastewater sparked strong protests from China, while disinformation campaigns led to incidents such as the pelting of rocks at Japanese schools in China and reports of numerous hostile phone calls to local businesses in Fukushima.

In response, Tokyo advised its citizens visiting China to exercise caution and refrain from speaking Japanese loudly in public. The Japanese government pledged financial assistance to the fishing industry, while Tepco, the company responsible for operating the Fukushima plant, expressed readiness to compensate local businesses affected by the discharge.

Japanese politicians have also sought to promote the safety of Fukushima’s seafood and water. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a public display of consuming Fukushima sashimi in a government-released video, while former Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi was seen surfing in the area.

Economists opine that the decline in seafood exports is unlikely to exert a substantial impact on Japan’s overall economy, given that its exports to China are predominantly dominated by automobiles and machinery.



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