Hong Kong Will Ban Seafood Imports If Japan Releases Treated Water

Japanese imports of seafood are seen in a supermarket in Hong Kong on July 12.

HONG KONG, July 12 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s environment and ecology department head said the city will ban seafood imports from 10 Japanese prefectures if Tokyo goes ahead with a plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima plant into the sea.

Tse Chin-wan, Secretary for Environment and Ecology told reporters on Wednesday that a ban would include imports of all live, frozen, refrigerated, dried or otherwise preserved aquatic products, sea salt, and unprocessed or processed seaweed.

The measures come a day after Hong Kong leader John Lee said that the city would ban sea products from a “large number” of Japanese prefectures if Tokyo went ahead with the waste water discharge.

The city is Japan’s second largest market, after mainland China, for agricultural and fisheries exports. In 2022, Japan exported 75.5 billion yen ($536 million) fishery products to Hong Kong, according to Japanese government statistics.

Japan’s plan, approved by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has faced opposition at home and abroad over concerns of food safety. The country insists the releases will be safe and meet global standards.

Japan has made a strong request to Hong Kong officials not to tighten restrictions on food imports from Japan because of its plan to discharge treated radioactive water from its Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Tse and chief secretary Eric Chan said they met the Japanese consul general in Hong Kong to discuss the issue and emphasized that the government has a rigorous system to ensure food safety.

The ban would apply to imported aquatic products from Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano and Saitama, Tse said.