The release of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant prompted China to ban Japan’s seafood imports. Japanese officials say they are now looking to boost export markets in places such as Taiwan, the US and Europe.
Japan’s government has announced a new aid package of 20.7 billion yen ($141 million; €130 million) to help the local fishery industry following a Chinese ban on all Japanese seafood exports.
Beijing imposed the blanket measure after Japan started discharging treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on August 24.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the funding came on top of an existing 80 billion yen set aside to help seafood businesses stay afloat and combat damage to the reputation of Japanese products.
“We will protect the Japanese fisheries industry at all costs,” Kishida said. 
The new aid package will be used to find markets for Japanese seafood to replace China and fund government purchases of seafood. Officials said they planned to foster new export destinations in Taiwan, the US, Europe, the Middle East, and some southeast Asian countries.
Before the release of the wastewater, China was the biggest export destination for Japanese fish, accounting for 22.5% of the total.
Hong Kong, the second-biggest market with 20%, has also blocked seafood imports from Fukushima and nine other prefectures.
The bans are a major blow to Japan’s seafood industry, affecting prices and sales of products as far away from Fukushima as the northern island of Hokkaido.
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A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused core meltdowns at the Fukushima plant. Since then, the shut-down reactors have had to be cooled with water that was then stored in tanks.
The decision to start releasing that wastewater into the ocean, a process that is expected to take decades to complete, was met with an outcry at home and abroad.  
The government has sought to reassure the public that seafood from Fukushima is safe to eat. Last week, Kishida and US envoy to Japan Rahm Emanuel visited the area to eat local fish in front of TV cameras.
Japanese officials say all seawater and fish samples taken since the release of the treated wastewater have been far below set safety limits for radioactivity.
nm/jcg (AP, AFP)