Japanese seafood imports to China fell by 67.6% from August 2022 to August 2023, according to data from China’s customs authority released September 18. This comes after the country announced a ban on all Japanese seafood imports following the controlled release of treated Fukushima wastewater back into nature.
In August, Tokyo began releasing treated wastewater from a damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima back into the environment. According to BBC News, after Japan began discharging the treated water on August 24, China announced a ban on all Japanese seafood imports even though Japan claimed that the water from the United Nations-approved plan was safe.
During a recent episode of The Economists’ Drum Tower Podcast, Chinese correspondents Alice Su and Ted Plafker explained how misinformation from the Chinese government has created paranoia around Japanese seafood, which has begun to affect China’s domestic seafood sector. Plafker said that Chinese citizens are “now afraid that the sea has been contaminated,” which has caused people to worry about seafood that is sourced in Chinese waters, not just Japanese seafood. 
Japan has promised to provide financial assistance to the fishing industry while Tepco — the company running the Fukushima plant — said it was prepared to compensate local businesses impacted by the release of the treated water.
Economists have said that the drop-off in seafood exports is unlikely to have a major impact on Japan’s overall economy because most of the country’s total exports to China are dominated by automobiles and other types of machinery.
Japan said that China was previously the world’s biggest importer of Japanese seafood. In 2022, China imported $571 million of seafood from Japan.
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