South Korean environmental groups and fishermen have called for a continued ban on fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima, reflecting lingering safety jitters caused by the 2011 nuclear disaster. On Japan's complaint, the WTO's dispute panel ruled against South Korea in February 2018.
On Thursday, the WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict, saying South Korean trade restrictions are not unfair and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination. The body supported one point for Japan, saying it has received enough information about import restrictions.
"With this ruling, our current import restrictions on Japan remain unchanged," the Seoul government said in a statement, adding South Korea would maintain a ban on imports of fishery products caught in eight prefectures around Fukushima.
The dispute has affected negotiations on revising a fisheries agreement between Seoul and Tokyo. Under a bilateral fisheries agreement that took effect in 1999, South Korea and Japan have set annual fishing quotas in each other's exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Seoul has insisted that fishing quotas and import restrictions are separate issues, while Japan has insisted on a reduced catch of swordfish in its waters.
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