Talks on Japan fishery ban flounder

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Talks on Japan fishery ban flounder

Korea and Japan have failed to reach an agreement after two days of discussions on Seoul’s ban of fishery imports.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Friday, talks were held at World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva after Japan filed a complaint.

Representatives of the Trade Ministry and ministries of Food and Drug Safety and Oceans and Fisheries and the Japanese ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries attended. The meeting was initially scheduled for Wednesday, but it continued into the next day due to heated negotiations.

Japan filed a complaint with the WTO on May 21 saying Korea should lift the ban because there has been no scientific data showing Japanese fish are dangerous.

Under strong public pressure, the Korean government decided in September 2013 to put a ban on fisheries products from eight Japanese towns near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, due to fears of contamination after the 2011 earthquake.

At the session, Japan argued that Korea lacks scientific evidence that Japanese seafood is dangerous and hasn’t shared radiation investigation results, which Tokyo said was a violation of the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement.

Korea countered that the government and independent food safety experts produced a report according to inspection results in line with the agreement.

Under article 5.7 of the agreement, “when relevant scientific evidence is insufficient, a member may provisionally adopt sanitary or phytosanitary measures on the basis of available pertinent information. … Members shall seek to obtain the additional information necessary for a more objective assessment of risk.”

The Korean Trade Ministry asked Japanese officials to release information about its radiation research and the status of the nuclear plants.

As the two countries failed to reach an agreement, Japan has until July 20 to ask the WTO to establish a multilateral dispute settlement panel. The dispute settlement panel could hold discussions for up to six months.

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