Japan Slams Russian Curbs on Fishery Product Imports

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno holds a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on October 11.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japanese cabinet ministers Tuesday voiced strong complaints over Russia’s decision to impose import restrictions on Japanese fishery products in response to Japan’s release of tritium-containing treated water from its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean.

“It’s unjust to tighten import restrictions without any scientific basis,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference. Japan strongly demands that Russia withdraw the restrictions, he said.

The restrictions “go against the international trend of relaxing or abolishing bans on food from Japan,” Matsuno said.

Fisheries minister Ichiro Miyashita separately said, “We’ll take various opportunities to strongly urge the immediate abolition of the import restrictions, which have no scientific basis.”

Industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a press conference that “the unilateral decision, which is not based on scientific grounds, is totally unacceptable.”

Japan is concerned about stronger cooperation between Russia and China, after Moscow said on Monday that it would join Beijing’s measures as a precautionary step.

China imposed a blanket ban on imports of Japanese fishery products immediately after the start of the treated water discharge in August.

Katsuro Kitagawa, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, lodged a protest against Moscow’s restrictions with Gennady Ovechko, charge d’affaires at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, on Monday.

Still, Russia’s restrictions are limited in their effect. Only about 0.1 pct of all fishery products exported from Japan went to Russia in terms of value last year. “Compared with over 20 pct in the case of China, the impact is very small,” Miyashita said.

But the issue might linger for a while if Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree to work together on restricting Japanese fishery products when they meet in Beijing on Wednesday.