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China’s imports of Japanese seafood plunge

Beijing imposed a ban after the release of treated radioactive wastewater from Fukushima

©  Getty Images / Freer Law

China’s seafood imports from Japan plummeted by more than two-thirds in August after Beijing introduced a ban on marine products from its neighbor, customs data showed on Monday.  

Seafood shipments from Japan slumped by 67.6% year-on-year last month as the pace of decline in imports accelerated from 28.5% in July.  

Beijing imposed an immediate ban on imports of all seafood from Japan in response to Tokyo’s decision to discharge treated radioactive wastewater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, beginning on August 24.     

China tightened checks on Japanese marine products for radioactive materials from early July, causing goods to be held for weeks at customs. Exports of mainly fresh fish, which cannot be sold once they lose their freshness, have become impossible.  

Beijing has strongly opposed the release of wastewater from Fukushima, claiming it is “nuclear-contaminated” and describing the step as “extremely selfish and irresponsible.” 

READ MORE: China bars seafood from Japan

China had long been Japan’s largest seafood customer, purchasing products worth $496 million in 2022. It also imported $370 million worth of crustaceans and mollusks – such as crabs and scallops – last year, according to the Japanese statistics office.  

The total value of China’s seafood imports from Japan was worth 149.02 million yuan ($20.43 million) last month, figures showed.   

China also purchases marine products from countries such as Ecuador, Russia, and Canada.     

The Fukushima nuclear power plant experienced a catastrophic meltdown after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent devastating tsunami in 2011. It was the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

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