Korea considering banning Japan food imports

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Korea considering banning Japan food imports

Korea is considering joining a growing number of countries to ban Japanese food imports as concern turns to panic over radioactive contamination following the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, according to the country’s food watchdog yesterday.

“If serious radioactive contamination of Japanese products is found in the future, we will review a plan to tentatively put on hold the imports of Japanese food,” said the Korea Food and Drug Administration in a statement.

The announcement came on the same day as Hong Kong began a ban on food imports from the affected Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned imports of dairy products, vegetables and fruits produced in Fukushima and three neighboring prefectures - Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi - on Tuesday. The European Union is reviewing a similar measure.

According to reports, bottled water on the shelves of many Tokyo stores were sold out after officials warned on Wednesday that radioactive iodine levels in the city’s tap water were too dangerous for infants to drink.

The tsunami-ravaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where the radiation leaks originated after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, are 140 miles north of Tokyo.

Yesterday, Kawaguchi, a city north of Tokyo, also found twice the normal amount of radioactive iodine, and high radiation levels were also observed in parts of Chiba, east of Tokyo.

Broccoli and 10 other vegetables grown in or around Fukushima were also found to have high radioactivity levels, according to Tokyo officials yesterday.

The KFDA said no Japanese products shipped to Korea so far were contaminated. Japan has banned outward shipment from the areas near the crippled nuclear plant since March 21. The KFDA said it is checking all imported Japanese products for radiation contamination.

Japanese efforts to prevent radiation leaks slowed down yesterday as white plumes were seen rising from reactors No. 1 and No. 4. Tokyo officials later said no rise in radioactivity had been detected.

Three Japanese workers were exposed to radiation yesterday, and two were sent to the hospital for treatment, the Japanese government said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday that the overall situation at the Fukushima plant remained serious.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[연합]

식약청, 日 4개현 식품 수입금지 검토

식품의약품안전청은 원전 폭발 사고가 일어난 후쿠시마 인근 지역에서 생산된 일본산 식품에 한해 수입을 전면 금지하는 방안을 적극 검토하고 있다고 23일 밝혔다.

수입금지가 검토되는 생산지는 후쿠시마(福島)ㆍ이바라키(茨城)ㆍ도치기(檜木)ㆍ군마(群馬)현 등 4곳이다.

이는 미국 식품의약품국(FDA)이 후쿠시마 원전 인근 지역에서 생산된 야채와 유제품에 대해 수입을 금지하겠다는 계획을 밝힌 데 따른 것으로 분석된다.

일본 정부도 앞서 21일 후쿠시마 등 4곳의 현을 대상으로 당분간 시금치와 '가키나'라고 불리는 유채과(科) 채소의 출하를 중단하고 후쿠시마현에 대해서는 우유 원유도 출하하지 말라고 지시했다.

식약청 관계자는 "오늘 중으로 수입금지 조치 여부를 결정할 계획"이라며 "해당 지역에서 생산된 식품에서 기준치 이상의 방사선 물질이 검출됐으며 일본 정부도 이미 출하를 금지했기 때문에 수입금지 조치하는 것이 자연스럽다고 판단하고 있다"고 말했다.

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