Sincere explanations are neededThe Japanese government turned out to have sent insincere answers to our government’s reasonable questions about the safety of Japanese seafood exports following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. According to the document, a considerable number of Tokyo’s replies to the 24 questions from our government were either reiterations of past press releases or merely links to Internet addresses that show related information. In some cases, Japan gave ridiculous answers to our questions or naively recommended other references. We are dumbfounded by the way the Japanese government approaches this critical issue.
Our government has banned fisheries from Japan since June, after taking into account our consumers’ deepening worries about the potential radioactive contamination of the seafood. Then Japan demanded our government withdraw the decision, citing a “lack of scientific foundation.” Tokyo is preparing to file an official complaint with the World Trade Organization sooner or later.
However, the Japanese government’s replies revealed that 8 percent of Japanese fisheries exceeded the permitted level of radiation in a 2012 study. Despite a small size of the samples surveyed, our consumers think that not even a single fish should be contaminated with radiation. That’s why our government decided to ban all fishery imports from Japan. Under such circumstances, Tokyo’s sloppy answers can only fuel our citizens’ anger and antipathy toward Japan.
Food safety is an issue quite different from the ongoing disputes over territorial rights or the past. Both countries must enhance food safety through close cooperation based on science. If they are able to establish a solid framework for close consultations, it could help create a breakthrough in our deadlocked political relations, too. Regrettably, however, Japan has given up the precious opportunity for better ties.
Our Foreign Ministry also should have countered more maturely and sternly. It neither protested Tokyo’s disingenuous attitudes, nor did it demand further explanations. We hope our Foreign Ministry is not just a state organ that receives official documents from other governments and sends out our responses. The ministry must come up with a stern response to Tokyo’s insincere answers. It can hardly ease our people’s growing anxieties with such lukewarm and indecisive attitudes.