TOKYO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Japan on Thursday asked the World Trade Organization to set up a panel to rule on South Korea’s import bans and testing requirements for Japanese food after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, since the restrictions show no signs of being eased.
Japan launched a trade complaint at the WTO in May, saying the South Korean measures violated a WTO agreement and that Seoul had failed to justify the measures as required.
“We held two days of bilateral discussions on this on June 24 and 25, but there was no expression from the Korean side of when the restrictions might be lifted,” Japan’s Agriculture Ministry said on its website.
“Since more than 60 days have passed since the complaint was lodged, and there is no sign of when the restrictions might be repealed, we have asked today, in accordance with WTO rules, for the establishment of a panel.”
South Korea in May expressed regret at Japan’s move and said then that the ban on some Japanese seafood was necessary and reflected safety concerns.
Japan countered by saying levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.
The average annual value of South Korean imports of Japanese fish and seafood was $96 million in 2012-2014, less than half the average of $213 million in 2006-2010, according to data from the International Trade Centre in Geneva. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ryan Woo)