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Russia may ban on Japanese seafood imports over Fukushima water release

Russia may ban seafood shipments from Japan over the Fukushima water release, a Russian regulatory body said on Tuesday, according to Independent.

Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor said the issue of food exports had been discussed with colleagues from China. The watchdog said in a statement:

Taking into account the possible risks of radiation contamination of products, Rosselkhoznadzor is considering the possibility of joining with Chinese restrictions on supplies of fish products from Japan. The final decision will be made after negotiations with the Japanese side.

Last month, Japan began dumping water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, prompting strong condemnation from Chinese authorities. In response, China banned the import of all seafood from Japan.

Russia, as one of the main suppliers of seafood products to China, is actively pursuing opportunities to expand its market share in the region. Russia has already imported 118 tonnes of Japanese seafood this year.

A senior Japanese government official, Hirokazu Matsuno, responded to Russia’s statement by saying on Wednesday that Japan would scrutinise the issue. Mr Matsuno told the media:

We strongly ask Russia to act based on scientific evidence. In addition to this, we received an IAEA report made with the participation of international experts, including from Russia.

Rosselkhoznadzor requested information from Japan on the procedure for radiological control of exported fish products, including an assessment of tritium content, and appealed to start negotiations.

Local media reports that the deadline for this information is 16 October. Meanwhile, late last week, US ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel accused China of using “economic coercion” against Japan. He said:

Economic coercion is the most persistent and pernicious tool in their economic toolbox. China is engaged right now in fishing in Japan’s economic waters while they are simultaneously engaged in the unilateral embargo on Japan’s fish.

In early September, fishermen and residents of Fukushima and neighbouring communities on Japan’s northeastern coast filed a lawsuit demanding an immediate halt to the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

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