The US imports Japanese seafood in response to China’s ban on Fukushima.
Rahm indicated that Washington might explore measures to counter the ban.
China cited safety concerns as the reason for the import ban.
The US military stationed in Japan has initiated large-scale purchases of Japanese seafood in response to China’s import ban on Japanese seafood following the release of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, has also indicated that Washington might explore additional measures to counter China’s ban, which he referred to as part of Beijing’s “economic wars.”
China, formerly the largest purchaser of Japanese seafood, cited safety concerns as the reason for the import ban. In the previous year, Japan exported over 100,000 tons of scallops to China, while the initial purchase under the US program involves just under one metric ton of shellfish.
According to Mr. Emanuel, this marks the beginning of a long-term contract that will gradually encompass various seafood types.
The acquired seafood will serve both to feed military personnel and be available for sale in shops and restaurants located on military bases in Japan.
He stated, “It’s going to be a long-term contract between the US armed forces and the fisheries and co-ops here,” and added, “The best way we have proven in all the instances to kind of wear out China’s economic coercion is to come to the aid and assistance of the targeted country or industry.”
The US military had not previously procured Japanese seafood in Japan, and Mr. Emanuel mentioned that Washington might also assess its fish imports from Japan and China.
In response to Mr. Emanuel’s remarks, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented during a news conference, stating that “the responsibility of diplomats is to promote friendship between countries rather than smearing other countries and stirring up trouble.”
Mr. Emanuel has been vocal about various issues concerning China in recent months, including its economic policies and treatment of foreign businesses.
These comments come in the context of efforts by top US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to visit Beijing and ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
The issue revolves around more than a million tonnes of treated wastewater accumulated at the Fukushima nuclear plant, a result of severe damage caused by a 2011 tsunami.
China imposed the import ban. Japan has also pointed out that similar wastewater releases occur at other nuclear power plants in China and France and continues to provide reports showing undetectable levels of radioactivity in the seawater near Fukushima despite Japan asserting the safety of the water and receiving approval from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.
Furthermore, over the weekend, trade ministers from the Group of Seven (G7), a consortium of the world’s leading “advanced” economies, called for the immediate repeal of the bans on Japanese food products.