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18 June, 2015

Bilateral Consultations Set at WTO on South Korea’s Restrictions of Japanese Marine Product Imports

Bilateral consultations are scheduled to begin on June 24 (in Geneva) between Japan and South Korea concerning the latter’s restrictions on imports of Japanese marine products, as provided for in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.

The consultations, announced by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on June 15, will deal with the relevant issues prior to a request for formal adjudication by a WTO panel.

In September 2013, Seoul tightened regulations on Japanese food products, including prohibiting imports of marine products produced in Fukushima and seven other prefectures based on claims of contaminated water as a result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi. Occurring more than two and a half years after the accident, the move was part of a general worsening of relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Japan has increased its opposition to the restrictions, calling them a “political action.” Because it had repeatedly urged South Korea to lift them — all to no avail — it took the step on May 21 of asking it to carry out bilateral consultations according to the WTO agreement.

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