Hong Kong Says Ready to Bar Many Seafood Items from Japan

AP Photo/Louise Delmotte, File
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, March 21, 2023.

HONG KONG (Jiji Press) — Hong Kong chief John Lee said Tuesday that the region will ban imports of many seafood items from Japan if treated water from the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is released into the ocean.

If the water release “really starts,” Lee said at a press conference, “We’ll be banning a large number of [Japanese] prefectures’ sea products beyond…the present scale.”

The move is feared to deal a blow to the Japanese fisheries industry, as Hong Kong is the second largest importer of Japanese food products.

Lee argued that the discharge of the treated water from the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plant, which suffered a nuclear meltdown in 2011, is “so unprecedented that the risks are very unknown in other areas.”

On Friday, the Hong Kong leader said that the region was considering banning imports of fishery and agricultural products from high-risk regions, while criticizing Japan for failing to prove the reliability and legality of its Fukushima water discharge plan.

Hong Kong currently restricts food imports from five Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima. It has halted imports of vegetables and fruits from Fukushima, while requiring certificates of tests for radioactive substances for imports of fishery products.

In 2022, Japan’s exports of agricultural, fishery and food products to Hong Kong totaled ¥208.6 billion, the second highest after mainland China, accounting for 15.6% of its overall exports in this category.

Restaurants and retailers in Hong Kong, where Japanese food is very popular, are expected to be greatly affected by any ban on fishery imports from Japan.