China bans Japanese seafood over Fukushima nuclear waste water release

China, Japan's biggest seafood export market, has banned all Japanese aquatic products in response to the release of waste water from a nuclear plant wrecked by a tsunami 12 years ago.

China's General Administration of Customs said on Thursday the immediate ban covered all aquatic products, including edible imports, to "prevent risks from Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated waste water" into the Pacific Ocean.

It comes after Hong Kong, second only to mainland China for imports of Japanese seafood, announced a similar ban on seafood from 10 Japanese prefectures.

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China has been a fierce critic of Japan's plan to discharge waste water from the wreckage of the Fukushima plant.

The foreign ministry said China "strongly condemned" the move to discharge the water and it demanded Japan to "stop the wrong act".

"Japan should not inflict secondary damage on its people and the world out of its selfishness," the ministry said.

Engineers from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) flicked the switch on Thursday and began releasing into the ocean around 1,200 cubic metres (42,400 cubic feet) of water - enough to fill about 540 Olympic swimming pools - that had been sealed in the plant since it was hit in 2011.

Japan says it needs to release the water because rainwater continues to seep into the plant, filling up the storage area.

Tepco said the released waste water was filtered and diluted and was not harmful. The International Atomic Energy Agency said earlier that the release would have a "negligible" impact on the environment.

But the Chinese foreign ministry said the assessment was not backed up by data.

"There is no evidence that the purification equipment is reliable in the long term, and there is no evidence that the pollution data is accurate. There is no evidence that the discharge into the ocean is safe for the marine environment and human health," the ministry said.

It added that the Chinese government would take all measures to ensure food safety and the health of Chinese people.

China has accused Japan of treating the ocean as a "sewer", summoning the Japanese ambassador on Tuesday "to make solemn representations" against the long-expected move.

More to follow ...

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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