Japan to keep urging China to lift food import ban: PM Kishida

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Japan will continue urging China to lift its import ban on Japanese seafood following the oceanic discharge of treated radioactive water from a nuclear power plant, calling for a “cool-headed,” science-based judgment on the issue.

Speaking at a press conference held before wrapping up his visit to San Francisco, Kishida said it is not clear when the import restriction will be removed, a day after he called on Chinese President Xi Jinping during their summit to abolish it immediately.

“We agreed to find a way to solve this issue through consultations and dialogue in a constructive manner,” Kishida said. “I ask (China) to make a cool-headed judgment and take a constructive approach based on scientific analysis and facts.”

“I will seize every opportunity to continue urging China to lift the import restriction,” said Kishida, who participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit that ended on Friday in the U.S. city.

The import ban is one of many issues standing in the way of improving relations between the Asian neighbors.

Kishida said Japan and China have agreed to have expert consultations from a scientific standpoint on the water. It is being released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, which was crippled in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Asked about his view on Xi’s use of the term “nuclear-contaminated water,” Kishida refrained from comment. China’s state-run media has reported that Xi requested Kishida to handle the water discharge “properly” to address concerns at home and abroad.

The water is diluted to reduce the tritium levels to less than one-40th of Japan’s national safety standards. The International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded the release will have a “negligible” impact on people and the environment.

By Muhammad Umair