TOKYO, Feb. 23 — Japan has won a victory against the South Korea in a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found fault with Seoul’s import bans on Japanese seafood and additional testing requirements imposed on Japanese agricultural foods, following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
South Korea’s import bans were justified right after the nuclear meltdown, a WTO dispute panel said on Feb. 22.
But continuing them violated the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement, the panel ruled.
If Seoul appeals the WTO’s decision, it can keep the restriction measures in place until the world body makes a final ruling, which may come in the second half of the year at the earliest, experts say.
The seafood row began in 2013 when South Korea broadened its initial ban on partial fishery imports to all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba.
Seoul also took further steps to demand additional testing requirements from all food products from Japan, as it claimed they were to protect the Korean people from the potential harmful effects of radioactive contamination.
Tokyo brought its objections to the WTO in 2015.
Many countries have removed restriction measures on produce from Japan, but 28 countries such as Hong Kong and China still have the measures in place up to now.
Tokyo will step up talks with them to lift the restriction measures in the light of the WTO ruling, Japanese government officials said.