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In August, China's Import of Japanese Seafood Drops by 67% Amid Fukushima Issue

 


China experienced a significant decline in its seafood imports from Japan in the previous month, coinciding with Tokyo's commencement of discharging treated wastewater from the compromised Fukushima nuclear power plant. According to China's customs authority, imports of Japanese seafood plunged by 67.6% in August compared to the same month the previous year. It's noteworthy that China was the world's leading importer of Japanese seafood, having imported 84.4 billion yen ($571 million; £461 million) worth of seafood from Japan last year.

This sharp decline in imports occurred as Japan prepared to initiate the release of the treated wastewater and in the aftermath of its commencement. Following the devastating 2011 tsunami that severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear facility, over a million tons of treated wastewater had accumulated there. On August 24th, Japan began the process of discharging this water, a task expected to span 30 years. On the same day, China declared a ban on all imports of Japanese seafood. Concerns were expressed by fishing industry groups in Japan and the broader region about the impact of the release on their livelihoods.

Despite Japan's assertion that the released water was safe, supported by many scientists and approved by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, China strongly objected to the discharge. Disinformation campaigns led to incidents like the pelting of rocks at Japanese schools in China and reports of hundreds of hostile phone calls to local businesses in Fukushima. As a precaution, Tokyo advised its citizens visiting China to exercise caution and avoid speaking Japanese loudly in public.

To mitigate the adverse effects on the fishing industry, the Japanese government pledged financial assistance, and the company responsible for the Fukushima plant, Tepco, committed to compensating local businesses affected by the release. Japanese politicians also actively promoted the safety of Fukushima seafood and water, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida even consuming sashimi from Fukushima in a government-released video, and former Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi surfing in the area.

Economists noted that the decline in seafood exports is unlikely to exert a substantial impact on Japan's overall economy since its exports to China predominantly consist of automobiles and machinery.

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