Japan is seeking talks with China to resolve a dispute over the disposal of treated wastewater from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant, with top officials of both countries set to cross paths at the Asean summit.
(Bloomberg) — Japan is seeking talks with China to resolve a dispute over the disposal of treated wastewater from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant, with top officials of both countries set to cross paths at the Asean summit.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang will meet with Southeast Asian nations in Jakarta Wednesday and Thursday. There were concerns Li might use the forum to condemn Japan’s water release in front of regional dignitaries.
Read more: China’s Fury Over Fukushima Water Casts Pall on Asean Forum
Japan said this week it has requested discussions with China under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership over Beijing’s ban on Japanese seafood imports. Both countries are members of the pact, which also includes other Asia-Pacific nations such as South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.
China has been the most vocal opponent to Japan’s move, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that the practice meets with global safety standards. Beijing retaliated by suspending all seafood imports from Japan. There are also reports of harassment and abusive behavior toward Japanese people in China in response to the release.
Japan has warned of World Trade Organization action against China. Tokyo this week submitted its argument to the WTO explaining the safety of the water release. It also urged China to “immediately repeal” its import suspension.
Meanwhile, Kishida and Li are set to take part in the so-called Asean+3 summit on Wednesday, which also includes South Korea. It remains unclear if the two will hold an informal pull-aside meeting on the sidelines of the forum.
While the loss of China as an export market for items like scallops will have only a minimal effect on Japan’s overall economy, the government is anxious to maintain the reputation of its food and protect its fishing industry.
Japanese officials have made extensive efforts to persuade various countries to remove remaining restrictions on Japanese food imports since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
–With assistance from James Mayger.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.