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Last Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel visited the Fukushima region. Amid the controversy over the treatment of water from the nuclear accident, the visit represented an opportunity for the United States to continue to rally behind Japan if the dispute with China over the ban on Japanese seafood products is taken to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The controversy began a few weeks ago when Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Despite the discharge being approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency, some countries considered it unsafe to consume food from Japanese waters, including China and Hong Kong, which imposed a ban.
Only in 2022, Japan exported around USD 600 million (EUR 555.7 million) of seafood to China, making it its largest market for these exports. This situation has led Japan to seek the immediate lifting of China’s ban and to complain of being the victim of harassing phone calls since it began dumping the water.
The United States will support Japan depending on what U.S. government agencies dictate
This has triggered a series of measures on both sides of the conflict. As reported by Reuters, the Japanese authorities have raised the possibility of taking diplomatic measures, such as filing a complaint with the WTO to urge China to lift this ban, arguing that it is not based on scientific evidence.
In this context, Emanuel stressed that the United States would be willing to support Japan in this effort because of its alliance and the legitimacy of the case. However, he clarified that support would depend on the relevant U.S. government agencies and that he could not foresee the outcome.
As Reuters reported, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Tokyo’s largest fish market and announced that his cabinet will take steps to assist the seafood industry in the coming days. Substantial funds will be used to finance these measures, including the development of new markets and discussions with China.
Japan’s aid funds to prevent market decline
Additionally, the Japanese government has created funds to support the expansion of new markets and the storage of excess seafood until demand rebounds. During his visit to Soma, a city near the damaged nuclear facility, Emanuel engaged with the mayor, savored local seafood, and purchased seafood at a supermarket, all as a demonstration of his backing for the Japanese fishing sector.
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