SEOUL: South Korean Government has filed an appeal against a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on its import restrictions on Japanese seafood after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
After Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO in 2015 to challenge South Korea’s import bans, a WTO dispute panel ruled that South Korea’s measures were justified shortly after the 2011 nuclear disaster but maintaining them violated the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement.
However, the Seoul government insisted it will maintain the current restrictions until a final decision is made to ensure public safety.
Under WTO rules, South Korea has a set number of days to appeal to an appellate body, which could delay imports of Fukushima-related seafood during the deliberation period.
In Tokyo, fisheries minister Ken Saito expressed regret over South Korea’s appeal, saying at a news conference it was “extremely regrettable.”
Minister Saito also said Japan will properly address the matter so that its claims will be accepted by the WTO’s appellate body. In addition, Tokyo will urge Seoul to swiftly lift the ban.
Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, South Korea initially imposed a partial ban on imports of marine products from the eight prefectures due to fears of radioactive contamination.
According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, 46 nations adopted import restrictions on Japanese foods following the 2011 nuclear disaster, and those measures are still in place in 24 nations, including the United States, Russia, Lebanon and Argentina.