The US military in Japan buys local seafood to counter the Chinese ban.
The US military stationed in Japan has initiated the purchase of Japanese seafood in response to China’s import ban following the release of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant. The US ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, stated that Washington might explore additional ways to counter China’s ban, which he referred to as part of Beijing’s “economic wars.”
China, previously the largest buyer of Japanese seafood, imposed the import ban, citing safety concerns. In 2022, Japan exported over 100,000 tonnes of scallops to China. The initial purchase under the US programme consists of just under a metric tonne of shellfish. According to Emanuel, this marks the beginning of a long-term contract that will eventually encompass various types of seafood.
The purchased seafood will serve to feed military personnel and be available in shops and restaurants on US military bases in Japan. Emanuel noted that the US military had not previously procured Japanese seafood in Japan and that Washington might also reconsider its fish imports from both Japan and China.
This move aligns with the US strategy to provide aid and assistance to countries or industries targeted by China’s economic coercion.
In response to Emanuel’s comments, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, emphasised the role of diplomats in promoting friendship between countries rather than stirring up trouble.
Despite Japan’s assurance of the safety of the released water and approval by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, China imposed the import ban. Japan has also highlighted similar waste water releases from other nuclear power plants in China and France. Japan regularly reports on the seawater near Fukushima, showing no detectable levels of radioactivity.
This development coincides with the recent call by trade ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) for the immediate repeal of bans on Japanese food products.