Seafood ban hits Japan due to Fukushima

In recent weeks, Mr. Ho, a Hong Kong, was among the many Hongkongers who had flocked to Japanese restaurants for sushi and sashimi.

The city has always been very fond of Japanese seafood. In the days leading up to the Fukushima nuclear waste water release, however, there was a renewed urgency to ingest it.

At 13:00 local time (05:00 BST) on Thursday, Japanese authorities announced that they had begun pumping water into the ocean through an underground conduit. Regional neighbors reacted with immediate outrage.

To protect the health of Chinese consumers, mainland China's customs office announced that an existing ban on seafood imports from Fukushima and some prefectures would be promptly extended to all of Japan.

Many anticipate Hong Kong will follow suit within the next few days. This would be an enormous success in Japan.

China and Hong Kong account for nearly half of Japan's annual seafood exports, totaling $1.1 billion (£866 million) according to reports. 

The Chinese social media has been inundated with posts expressing concern about the release of wastewater, with some users expressing concern about the release's long-term effects on fish that ends up in restaurants around the globe.

"This is not simply a matter of whether or not seafood is safe to consume. "Because of the circulation of currents, this will have a global impact," read one comment on the social media website. Japan has been preparing for the backlash.

The government had stated that it will purchase marine products to support fishermen as an emergency step in 2021 if the planned discharge has a negative effect on sales, according to sources.

According to the report, authorities are also contemplating establishing a fund that can be flexibly used to purchase seafood from Fukushima and other parts of Japan.

Uncertainty exists as to whether officials anticipated a total prohibition at this time. 

Despite the assertions of experts that the dispersal will not increase the radioactivity of the ocean, China has imposed restrictions. In July, the UN's nuclear inspector approved it, concluding that the impact on people and the environment would be negligible.

Numerous scientists assert that concerns regarding the impacts of treated water on seafood lack any scientific evidence.

Prof. Jim Smith, who teaches environmental science at the University of Portsmouth, asserts that radiation doses to humans will be very small if the intended release is carried out.

Prof. Smith states that the exposure would be "more than a thousand times less" than the natural radiation concentrations we receive annually. 

An associate professor of nuclear chemistry in Sweden,  Mark Foreman said seafood consumers are only exposed to "low" quantities of radiation, between 0.0062 and 0.032 microSv per year.

Humans can be exposed to up to 1,000 microSv of radiation per year, or tens of thousands of times more. But some concerns persist.

Back in Hong Kong, Ms. Cheng, an anonymous diner, expressed concern about the potential health effects of consuming Japanese seafood.

She has made eating at Japanese restaurants a weekly ritual. She intends to observe the situation over the next six months and will transition to Norwegian or South Korean seafood for the time being.