The value of South Korean imports of Japanese seafood hit a 12-year high in 2022 on a surge in imports of expensive live fish, government data showed Thursday.
Seoul imported $174.2 million worth of fishery products from the neighboring country last year, up 12.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Services.
It marked the largest yearly value of Japanese seafood imports since 2010, a year before the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
South Korea banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013 on concerns over their radiation levels in the wake of the incident.
Imports of Japanese seafood declined for four years after the disaster before switching to an upturn.
The value of imports, which stood at around $210 million in 2010, tumbled to $91 million in 2014 before shifting to a rise a year later and increasing to $120 million in 2019. The amount edged down in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic but climbed to $160 million in 2021.
Last year's increase was led by a jump in imports of more expensive live fish, which came to around $84 million, or about 48 percent of the total.
In terms of volume, Japanese seafood imports stood at 32,588 tons in 2022, a five-year high but some 40 percent of the 2010 level.
Industry watchers said South Korea's imports of Japanese seafood could rise further this year following Japanese media reports that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had asked President Yoon Suk Yeol to lift restrictions on imports of seafood from Fukushima during last week's summit in Tokyo.
Dismissing the reports, an official from the presidential office told a press briefing Monday that South Korea will never lift the curbs "if it poses any threat to the people's safety and health."
The data also showed Russia being the top exporter of seafood to South Korea last year with $1.42 billion in exports, followed by China with $1.03 billion, Vietnam with $677 million and Norway with $593 million. The United States came next with $225 million, trailed by Japan. (Yonhap)