Rahm Emanuel blasts China for Japanese seafood ban during Fukushima visit
Rahm Emanuel, U.S. ambassador to Japan, punched back against China with a show of support for Japanese fishers and farmers, after the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Why it matters: Although the treated water has been deemed safe by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Japan's decision to release the treated water was met with protests in South Korea and a Japanese seafood import ban in China.
- China is Japan's largest trading partner.
The big picture: Ahead of his visit to the Fukushima region, Emanuel called out "China's baseless political and economic actions against Japan over the release of treated wastewater from the nuclear plant," in an op-ed.
- The trip, he wrote, "has now taken on the additional purpose of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Japan to confront Beijing's latest acts of economic coercion."
- During his trip to the region of Fukushima Thursday, Emanuel visited the city of Soma and ate a seafood lunch with the mayor, spoke with local fisherman, and purchased produce and fish at a local grocery store, AP reported.
Worth noting: Japan has threatened this week to seek a reversal of China's seafood ban by filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization.
- "If Japan decides to take that effort, the United States will stand by (it) not just because they're an ally, but because there's legitimacy to the case," Emanuel said during the trip, though he noted the decision would ultimately rest with relevant U.S. government agencies, Reuters reported.
Flashback: In 2011, a massive earthquake unleashed a tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant and caused one of history's worst nuclear disasters.
- The Japanese government announced its plan to release the treated water into the Pacific Ocean two years ago, and it's considered a key step to decommissioning the Fukushima plant.