Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday he would compile measures to help the fishing industry hit by China’s ban on Japanese seafood, after visiting Tokyo’s biggest fish market.
The government will tap additional funds of about several tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars) from the government’s budget reserves for the current fiscal year to fund the measures, the Nikkei reported on Thursday.
“I will put together measures given the variety of opinions I heard from the fishing industry today,” Kishida said to reporters following a visit to Toyosu fish market on Thursday, adding that requests included support to help fishing companies develop new sales avenues and holding discussions with China.
Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean last Thursday, prompting China, Japan’s biggest trade partner, to impose a blanket ban on Japanese aquatic products.
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Tokyo’s government has set up two funds worth 80 billion yen (US$548 million) to help develop new sales channels and keep excess fish frozen until they can be sold when demand recovers, among other measures. Officials have previously denied the possibility of additional fiscal measures for the industry.
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More than 700 Japanese companies exported about US$600 million worth of aquatic products to China in 2022, making it the biggest market for Japanese exports, followed by Hong Kong, which announced its own ban on seafood imports from 10 Japanese regions after the Fukushima release.
Fisheries Minister Tetsuro Nomura said last Friday the government would take steps to diversify Japan’s fish exports for China-dependent products such as scallops. China took more than half of Japanese scallop exports in 2022.
Some Japanese officials have also signalled diplomatic actions to urge China to lift the ban, which Tokyo says is not based on scientific evidence, including filing a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.)