SEOUL: South Korea yesterday extended a ban on Japanese fishery imports to a larger area around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant due to growing concerns over radiation contamination.
Further fuelling those concerns, the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, said it was “very concerned” that radioactive water could flow towards a bypass it is digging to divert clean groundwater around the damaged reactors and into the sea.
The bypass is a key element of the company’s attempts to contain an escalating problem of irradiated water at the nuclear facility that was knocked out by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
The Korean move — widening its ban to cover imports from eight Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima — came as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe broke away early from a Group of 20 Summit in Russia to pitch Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, with assurances that the Japanese capital would be safe for all those coming to the Games. A decision by the International Olympic Committee is due on Saturday.
A spokesman for the South Korean Prime Minister’s office said the measures were due to “the sharply increased concern in the public about the flow of hundreds of tonnes of contaminated water into the ocean” at Fukushima. The indefinite ban, which takes effect on Monday and affects some of Japan’s biggest fishing areas, adds to international pressure to fix the crisis at the Fukushima plant, 230km north of Tokyo.
China has banned imports of dairy, vegetable and seafood products from at least five Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, since the disaster.