Japanese seafood bans facing different fates in Taiwan, South Korea
seafoodsource.com -- Nov 09
A World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel in Geneva, Switzerland has ruled in Japan's favor in a dispute over South Korean restrictions on imports of Japanese seafood imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The panel notified the two sides of the result on 18 October.

Japan lodged a complaint at the WTO in 2015 against South Korea's import bans on fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima, imposed in 2013. The ban applies to all fisheries products from Fukushima prefecture as well as the prefectures of Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori, as well as on additional testing requirements for seafood from other prefectures.

The ban was put in place in September of 2013 after large releases of contaminated cooling water from the damaged reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was released into the ocean. Japan made inconsistent statements about the amount of radiation being released, which caused Korea to doubt the reliability of Japanese data. Prior to the ban, in 2012, South Korea imported 5,000 tons of fishery products from the eight affected prefectures, out of a total of 40,000 tons of seafood imports from Japan.

Details of the final result will be available to WTO member nations in January and will be open to the public afterwards, but the Japanese government said it was "consistent with Japan's position."

The WTO dispute settlement process lets parties appeal panel decisions. Ryu Young-jin, South Korea's minister of food and drug safety, told lawmakers in the National Assembly that the country would appeal any ruling against it by the panel "in the interest of public health," according to a Yonhap News Agency report. Under WTO rules, South Korea has 60 days to appeal to an appellate body, which could delay imports of Fukushima-related seafood for another two years during the deliberation period. Accordingly, the ban -- even if ruled to be counter to WTO rules -- could stay in place until 2019.

The ruling could affect similar restrictions on Japanese seafood by other counties. For example, in 2016, when a new government took office in Taiwan, it proposed keeping the ban on products from Fukushima while imports from Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures would be allowed after inspection. The government began public hearings, as required for changes to regulations, but it did not observe the legal requirement that all such meetings be announced at least 10 days in advance, instead announcing the hearings only one or two days prior to their being held. The hearings were violently disrupted by opposition lawmakers and consumer safety campaigners, who overturned tables in an effort to halt the proceedings, saying that safety and public opinion were being ignored. The protests forced them to delay any moves for an early lifting.

Taiwan's original ban, preventing imports of food from Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, was put in place in 2011 by the administration of Ma Ying-jeou of the Koumingtang (KMT) Party over radiation concerns following Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. This is similar to the current Korean ban, except that the number of prefectures was fewer.

News source: seafoodsource.com
Nov 22
The Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday the wedding ceremony of Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, and her classmate from university days Kei Komuro will be held on Nov 4 next year. (Japan Today)
Nov 22
Subaru Corp. will introduce a series of all-electric cars in Japan as early as 2021, sources said, as competition intensifies between automakers looking to develop eco-friendly cars in response to stricter global emissions regulations. (Japan Times)
Nov 22
The government will draw up a fiscal 2017 supplementary budget for additional spending of some ¥2 trillion, including for setting up nursery facilities to accept 320,000 children on waiting lists ahead of schedule as pledged by the ruling coalition in the Oct. 22 general election. (Japan Times)
Nov 22
A woman employed as a costumed performer at Tokyo Disneyland was awarded labor compensation after developing a disorder that caused acute pain in her arm, the park's operator said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Nov 22
A woman employed as a costumed performer at Tokyo Disneyland was awarded labor compensation after developing a disorder that caused acute pain in her arm, the park's operator said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Nov 22
Toshiba Corp. will remove its corporate logo from its prominent position atop the One Times Square Building overlooking New York's iconic tourist hub as part of cost-cutting efforts, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Nov 22
In the latest incident involving the American military in Okinawa, a U.S. Navy C-2 transport aircraft carrying 11 crew members and passengers crashed into the ocean 150 km northwest of Okinotorishima on Wednesday. (Japan Times)
Nov 22
NHK has learned Japan is getting closer to finding out a date for the Emperor's abdication. (NHK)
Nov 22
The author of the smash hit comic series "Rurouni Kenshin" was referred to prosecutors Tuesday for alleged possession of pornographic images of underage girls, investigative sources said. (Japan Times)
Nov 21
Police are set to refer sumo grand champion Harumafuji to prosecutors by the end of the year on suspicion of assaulting lower-ranked wrestler Takanoiwa in a drunken brawl, investigative sources said Tuesday. (Japan Times)