Hong Kong plans widespread ban of Japanese sea products


HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong leader John Lee on Tuesday said the city will ban seafood products from a large number of Japanese prefectures if Tokyo goes ahead with a plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima plant into the ocean.

Hong Kong is Japan’s second-largest market for agricultural and fisheries exports. Mainland China is its biggest.

Japan’s plan, approved by U.N. nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has faced opposition at home and abroad over concerns for food safety. Tokyo says the releases will be safe and meet global standards.

Hong Kong’s current ban on shipments from one prefecture would “definitely” be expanded, said Lee, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, at a media briefing.

“If the exercise really starts, we’ll be banning a large number of prefectures’ sea products.”

China said last week it would tighten its scrutiny on food from Japan and maintain curbs on some Japanese imports. South Korea said a ban on food and seafood imports from the Fukushima region would remain in place.

Lee said he had asked Hong Kong’s secretary for the environment and ecology to form a multi-department team to design the city’s action plan. The government would take “decisive action” and announce details of the plan to the public as soon as possible, Lee said.

“The catering industry will be affected, but I am sure that they will understand that we’re forced to make a decision because of this unprecedented exercise.”

In 2022, Japan exported 75.5 billion yen ($536 million) in fishery products to Hong Kong, according to Japanese government statistics.

($1 = 140.8500 yen)

(Reporting by Farah Master, Jessie Pang and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong, and Kantaro Komiya in Tokyo; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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