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Korea not to lift Fukushima seafood import ban for CPTPP entry push: oceans minister

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Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan / Korea Times file
Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan / Korea Times file

Korea's oceans minister said Wednesday that the country will not lift a ban on imports of seafood from Japan's Fukushima area for the sake of winning Japan's support for the country's push to join a major free trade agreement.

Seoul decided to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which involves 11 nations, including Japan and Australia, and has been working on due domestic procedures to submit an application.

Japan has been reluctant to agree to Korea's entry, as it has banned all seafood imports from Japan's Fukushima regions since 2013 on concerns over radiation levels following the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown there.

"We've taken a resolute stance on the issue. We aren't considering allowing imports of Japan's Fukushima seafood as a tactic to get backing for our bid to join the CPTPP," Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan said during a meeting with reporters.

Cho earlier said the issue regarding regulations on fishery products was directly linked to the health and safety of the people so that it was not a matter being discussed under any international customs agreements.

Korea needs unanimous support from the 11 member states to win membership accreditation.

As for the now-expired fisheries agreement between Seoul and Tokyo, the minister vowed efforts to resume negotiations despite stark differences in their stances amid diplomatic rows stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The bilateral fisheries agreement has not been renewed after expiring in 2016, as the two sides failed to narrow the gap on fishing quotas and other issues.

Officials here have said that Japan's demand is closely related to Korea's sovereignty over its easternmost islets of Dokdo in the East Sea.

"Japan has not been very active in resuming talks on the agreement," Cho said. "We will continue efforts to make progress on the matter and to develop bilateral relations in a future-oriented fashion." (Yonhap)





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