On August 24, Japan initiated its plan to discharge nuclear wastewater into the sea. In response, China announced in late August that it would suspend all seafood imports from Japan, expressing concerns about the water’s safety. Japan maintains that the water is safe, referencing a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which concluded that the release would have minimal radiation effects on humans and the environment.

According to the latest figures published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan on October 6, seafood exports to mainland China experienced a significant decline of 65.7%, amounting to 3.6 billion yen (approximately HK$188 million) in August compared to the same period last year. This marks a consecutive two-month decline.

japan fish market tuna on cart
Fish market in Japan (© Manuel Romaris via Flickr)

In contrast, despite the Hong Kong government’s ban on seafood imports from 10 prefectures in Japan, seafood exports to Hong Kong showed an overall export growth of 15.5% to 6.9 billion yen (approximately HK$360 million), even though there was a decrease of 500 million yen (approximately HK$26.11 million) in the export value of seafood (excluding processed food) compared to August 2022. Notably, the export of scallops, which were significantly impacted by the discharge of nuclear wastewater, increased by 54.0% to 900 million yen (approximately HK$47 million).

When asked about the situation, Tse Chin-wan, Secretary for the Environment and Ecology Bureau, explained that in the past, seafood from various prefectures would be sent to Tokyo for packaging and export. In this case, the origin would be labelled as “Tokyo”. However, after the ban took effect, the packaging process has been relocated to other places, therefore the labeling has been changed. The increase in numbers is believed to be a result of market adaptation and compliance with legal requirements.

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Header image credit: Alexey Malandey via Flickr

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Growing up between Hong Kong and various other countries, Renee is a hospitality graduate, an adventure enthusiast, with a newfound passion for writing. When she’s not discovering hidden gems and new eats on Instagram, you'll most likely find her sweating at the gym, sipping on fine wine with friends, solving mysteries in crime movies, or jet-setting to new countries.

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