WTO upholds South Korean ban on Fukushima seafood

The World Trade Organization has upheld South Korea's import ban on Japanese seafood from areas affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

South Korea on Friday welcomed the decision and said it will continue to block all fishery products from Fukushima and seven neighbouring prefectures to ensure "only foods that are confirmed as safe are put on the table." 

"The government will continue to maintain and strengthen our quarantine sovereignty and safety net," South Korea's Office for Government Policy Coordination said in a statement.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the WTO ruling was "extremely regrettable" and that Tokyo will aim to get the import ban reversed through bilateral talks with Seoul.

South Korea imposed the ban in 2013 after the Tokyo Electric Power Company revealed that highly contaminated water leaked from a storage tank at a crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima that was submerged by a massive tsunami in 2011.

Japan launched a complaint with the WTO over the ban in 2015, saying that the radioactive levels of seafood from the areas were safe. The ruling by WTO's appellate body overturned key points of a verdict by a lower dispute panel last year that said the South Korean measures were excessive and discriminatory against Japan.