Japan to Urge China to Stop Blanket Checks of Fishery Products

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan will press China to eliminate new blanket radiation checks on Japanese fishery products, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Thursday.

“The government is confirming the details of the situation. We will use every opportunity to urge the Chinese government to remove the import restrictions,” Matsuno said.

Regarding the release into the ocean of treated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Matsuno again emphasized that the government will carefully explain its plan to the international community with a high level of transparency, based on the comprehensive report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which acknowledged the validity of the release plan.

Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, justified the de-facto tightening of import restrictions on Japanese fishery products by customs authorities at a press conference on Thursday. “Our job is to be responsible for the health of our people and the marine environment,” she said. Mao also made a fresh call for Japan to refrain from releasing the treated water.

According to local businesses, the clearance of Japanese fishery products including fresh tuna has been significantly delayed at customs in Shenzhen, China, since early this month due to radiation checks. Some have said that the disposal of products might result in a loss worth ¥100 million, mainly affecting Japanese exporters. According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, it has occasionally received inquiries about customs clearance, but the number of such inquiries increased this week. This is apparently due to Chinese customs authorities switching from random to full checks.

China has already banned imports of almost all food items including fishery products and feedstuff from 10 Japanese prefectures including Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and Tokyo. As for food items from other Japanese prefectures, China requires radiation test certificates conforming to Chinese standards and certificates of origin for fishery products.

The value of fishery exports from Japan to China came to ¥87.1 billion in 2022. Japanese scallops are especially popular, and other major products exported include sea cucumbers, bonito and tuna.