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S. Korea to appeal WTO ruling against import ban on Japanese seafood

SEOUL — South Korea said Friday it will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling against its ban on imports of Japanese fishery products following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.


The South Korean government said it will appeal the ruling to safeguard public health and safety, adding that the existing ban will remain in place despite the WTO ruling.


At a news conference in Tokyo, Japanese farm minister Ken Saito called Seoul’s response regrettable, urging the South Korean government to take the WTO decision gravely.


In the ruling announced Thursday, the WTO’s dispute settlement panel said the ban was inconsistent with the global trade body’s rules not to “arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate” against another country and recommended South Korea take corrective action.


The panel also said a South Korean requirement that Japanese exporters of all marine products submit certificates of inspection if small amounts of radioactive cesium or iodine are detected is an effective barrier to fair trade.


The decision came more than two years after Japan filed a complaint over the South Korean import ban, claiming the ban was not based on scientific grounds.


Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, South Korea initially imposed a partial ban on imports of marine products from the eight prefectures due to fears of radioactive contamination.


In September 2013, Seoul expanded the restrictions to bar all fishery products from the eight prefectures and strengthened import regulations.

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