The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) will legislate measures to ban imports of seafood feared to have been exposed to radioactive water from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, the party's floor leader said Thursday.
Rep. Park Kwang-on made the remark just hours before Japan began discharging contaminated water from the crippled power plant into the ocean, expressing concern that seafood from Fukushima could still be imported after undergoing various processing steps despite the existing ban on imports from the region.
"We will come up with the legal groundwork for an import ban on fisheries products feared to have been exposed to radioactive contaminated water that would hurt people's health," Park said during a policy coordination meeting of the party.
"We will strengthen regulations on place-of-origin labeling, which will serve as a device to ensure that fisheries products from the dangerous region of Fukushima are not circulated in our country through various channels of processing," he said.
Park said the party will seek to designate damage from the water discharge as a disaster and come up with support measures for local fishermen and the fisheries industry. In order to raise funds for the support, the party will also lay the legal groundwork for seeking indemnity from Japan, he said.
Park also urged Japan to stop the release if it wants a true improvement of relations with South Korea.
"Unless Japan withdraws the plan to dump the Fukushima nuclear material into the ocean, any improvement in Korea-Japan relations would become mere talk," he said. "We strongly urge the president and the government to start talks with Japan on this issue."
The DP has strongly opposed Japan dumping the treated water into the Pacific, arguing it would pose great health risks to people in South Korea. But the government says the release would pose no health hazards as long as it is done in a scientifically safe manner.
On Wednesday, DP officials and rank-and-file members gathered for a candlelight rally at the National Assembly. They have also joined a protest rally with civic groups in front of the presidential office since Japan started the ocean discharge on Thursday afternoon.
Source: Yonhap News Agency