Global Economy

published : 2023-09-23

Chinese Ban on Japanese Seafood: U.S Ambassador Labels it 'Economic Coercion'

Rahm Emanuel speaks out against China's embargo in response to Fukushima wastewater release

U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel delivering a speech in Tokyo, highlighting the impact of China's seafood embargo on Japan's fishing industry. (Taken with Nikon D850)

U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, boldly accused China of resorting to 'economic coercion' by imposing a ban on Japanese seafood imports. This move comes in response to Japan's recent release of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, while Chinese fishing boats continue to operate off Japan's coasts.

During a speech in Tokyo, Emanuel highlighted the persistent and pernicious nature of 'economic coercion' employed by China, with the ban on Japanese seafood serving as the latest example. This ban has inflicted significant damage on Japan's fishing industry, given that China is its largest market for seafood.

Emanuel emphasized the irony of China fishing in Japan's economic waters while unilaterally imposing an embargo on Japan's fish. He suggested that China's intention behind these actions is to isolate Japan on the international stage.

As Japan began gradually releasing treated wastewater from the crippled Fukushima plant into the sea on August 24, China swiftly responded by banning Japanese seafood imports. China accused Tokyo of dumping 'radiation-contaminated water' into the ocean, raising concerns about the potential health hazards associated with Japan's actions.

Chinese fishing boats operating off the coasts of Japan, while Japan faces a ban on seafood imports from China. (Taken with Canon EOS R5)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reassured that the planned release of treated wastewater will have a minimal impact on the environment, marine life, and human health. This contradicts China's claims of significant contamination.

To bolster his case, Emanuel shared four photos on social media depicting Chinese vessels actively fishing off Japan's coast on September 15, despite China's seafood embargo from the same waters. He used the hashtag #Fukushima to draw attention to these images.

This outspoken U.S. ambassador has not shied away from expressing his critical viewpoints on China in the past. On September 15, Emanuel drew attention to the absence of Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, speculating that he might have been placed under house arrest. Additionally, he questioned the sudden disappearances of Foreign Minister Qin Gang and commanders of China's rocket force, comparing the situation to Agatha Christie's novel 'And Then There Were None.'

Furthermore, Emanuel accused China of employing artificial intelligence (AI) to spread false claims. Just four days after his earlier remarks, he asserted that China was using AI to propagate rumors that U.S. 'weather weapons' caused the wildfires in Maui and that the U.S. Army intentionally introduced COVID-19 to China.

A visual comparison of treated wastewater release from the Fukushima nuclear plant and the impact on the ocean's ecosystem. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7R IV)

In his Tokyo speech, Emanuel emphasized the need for a mature relationship with China that involves dialogue and conversation. However, he firmly stated that the veracity of information must be upheld, and disinformation should be promptly identified.

As this situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how these tensions between the United States, Japan, and China will impact diplomatic relations and the global perception of each nation's actions.

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