Japan PM asks China to lift seafood import ban after water release

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday he has asked China to immediately lift a ban imposed on all seafood products from Japan following the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

"We have requested the withdrawal (of the import ban) through diplomatic channels. We strongly encourage discussion among experts based on scientific grounds," Kishida told reporters at his office.

Japan started discharging treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea Thursday, despite persistent concerns among local fishermen and some neighboring countries.

China called the water release "an extremely selfish and irresponsible act" as it announced Thursday it would suspend imports of all seafood products from Japan. Beijing had previously introduced blanket radiation testing on seafood from the neighboring country.

Japan's National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations has also maintained its opposition to the water release, arguing that scientifically proven safety does not necessarily mean that the public will feel assured of the safety of seafood products.

The cooperative said Thursday that its head Masanobu Sakamoto called industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura to ask the Japanese government to push for a full lifting of the Chinese import ban.

In a statement released the same day, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., pledged to "provide appropriate compensation if domestic businesses suffer damage" due to a loss of export sales.

© Kyodo News