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Korea to restrict imports from Japan’s Fukushima

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A protester at an anti-Japan rally stand next to a banner mocking the Japanese Foreign Ministers Taro Kono’s promotional remarks on Fukushima’s food safety
August 4, 2019 By Do Je-hae
 
The Moon Jae-in administration will tighten its import quota on fishery and agricultural products from Fukushima in Japan in response to Tokyo’s decision to remove Korea from its whitelist of Group A countries that receive preferential trade processing.
 
A presidential aide said Sunday that if the Japanese Cabinet’s decision to remove Korea from the list takes effect Aug. 28, South Korea will reduce its quota for imports of seafood from Fukushima, which was affected by a nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.
 
“The Korean government has started to look into controlling the import quota of products from Fukushima,” the aide said asking for anonymity citing the sensitivity of the issue.
 
The new quota would strengthen control of imports of seafood from Fukushima and the surrounding region, which were introduced by Seoul in the wake of the nuclear disaster due to concerns about radioactive contamination.
 
The reinforcing of non-tariff measures in response to Japan’s trade offensive is gaining ground after Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki stressed that the government would impose measures to protect the “people’s safety.”
 
This was seen as targeting Japanese food imports from Fukushima following a massive earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the nuclear power plant there.
 
“Regarding Japan’s latest action, the biggest priority in relation to public safety are the tourism, food and waste sectors. We will announce specific follow-up measures for these after carefully reviewing them,” Hong said.
 
Observers say that using non-tariff measures can be useful for Seoul in gaining international support in the trade row with Japan, given that the World Trade Organization (WTO) took its side regarding the import of seafood from Fukushima in a ruling in April after a three-year battle.
 
The ruling in favor of Korea was a blow to the Japanese government, which exerted all-out efforts amid concerns about the safety of Fukushima fishery products. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to promote that it is safe to eat food from Fukushima at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, by pledging to use the area’s food products at the athletes’ village. This campaign has sparked a call among some Korean lawmakers for a boycott of the Tokyo Games.
 
Other measures being considered by Seoul include removing Japan from its whitelist and tightening controls on exports to Japan. Currently there are 29 countries on Korea’s list of trusted trading partners, including Japan. Seoul is also planning to take Tokyo’s trade restrictions to the WTO.
 
In addition, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, and second deputy director of the presidential National Security Office Kim Hyun-chong have hinted at the possibility of repealing a military information-sharing pact with Japan, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
 
“We will sternly carry out corresponding measures against the unfair economic retaliation. If Japan attempts to damage our economy, we will also take reciprocal responses and will strengthen them step-by-step,” President Moon Jae-in said in a rare live televised emergency Cabinet meeting over the weekend.
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August 12, 2019 - Posted by | fukushima 2019 | ,

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