China’s seafood imports from Japan experienced a significant decline in August due to Beijing’s ban on marine products from its neighboring country, according to customs data released on Monday. The data revealed that seafood shipments from Japan dropped by 67.6% year-on-year in August, with the decline accelerating from 28.5% in July.
The ban on seafood imports was imposed by Beijing in response to Tokyo’s release of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean on August 24. To address concerns about radioactive materials, China had already tightened its checks on Japanese marine products from early July. This led to goods being held at customs for weeks, making it impossible to export mainly fresh fish that lose their freshness over time and cannot be sold.
China’s opposition to the release of wastewater from Fukushima has been strong, with the Chinese government labeling it as “nuclear-contaminated” and criticizing it as “extremely selfish and irresponsible.”
The impact of the ban is significant considering that China has been Japan’s largest seafood customer for a long time. In 2022, China purchased seafood products worth $496 million from Japan. In addition to that, it imported $370 million worth of crustaceans and mollusks, such as crabs and scallops, last year, according to the Japanese statistics office.
Last month, the total value of China’s seafood imports from Japan was just 149.02 million yuan ($20.43 million), indicating a substantial decline. To compensate for the reduced imports from Japan, China also purchases marine products from other countries like Ecuador, Russia, and Canada.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster occurred in 2011 after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a devastating tsunami. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
In conclusion, China’s ban on seafood imports from Japan in response to the release of treated radioactive wastewater from Fukushima has caused a significant decline in Japan’s seafood exports to China. This ban, coupled with tightened checks on radioactive materials, has had a major impact on the seafood industry between the two countries. China’s opposition to the release of Fukushima wastewater remains strong, and it will be interesting to see if this ban continues or is lifted in the future.