Korea's Ban on Japanese Seafood Imports

Korea's Ban on Japanese Seafood Imports”

A report by the WTO panel released Thursday stipulated that Korea's measures were inconsistent with WTO rules to not "arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate" against another member country, and said the import ban "is more trade restrictive than required".

Some countries have maintained bans on imports, but South Korea is the only one that Japan has taken to the WTO.

The panel's decision is equivalent to a ruling by a court of first instance.

The government says it has been consistent with its concerns over food safety by continuously bringing the matter forward through its joint response team established right after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Last year, the European Parliament warned against easing checks imposed on food products imported from the Fukushima region in Japan in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

But the US, Canada, Malaysia, Thailand and others have lifted restrictions and special requirements for imports of fish products from Japan.

Relations between Japan and South Korea, often testy, have soured in recent years.

The Japanese government says it welcomes the panel's decision, which supports all of Japan's claims in the main points of contention.

The WTO has a two-tier dispute settlement system. If so, the final decision is expected to be made by the higher panel in the summer at the earliest.

Japan has exported a total of 708,566 tons of seafood to South Korea since March 2011, and South Korea has returned 0.03 percent of those exports asking for radiation level tests, the ministry said.

South Korea has imposed particularly strict measures on Japanese food imports.

In addition to South Korea, China, Singapore, Macau, Russia, Taiwan, have partial import bans on fishery products from Japan, according to the fisheries agency.

South Korea said on Friday it will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling that calls on the country to end its ban on fishery imports from Japan's Fukushima Prefecture, where nuclear meltdowns occurred almost seven years ago after a devastating quake and tsunami.

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