SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will issue its own response as soon as possible after the U.N. nuclear watchdog approved Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima plant into the ocean, a government official said on Wednesday.

After a two-year review, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Japan’s plans were consistent with global safety standards and that they would have a “negligible radiological impact to people and the environment”.

Park Ku-yeon, a vice-ministerial official at South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination, said the country respected findings by the IAEA since it was an internationally recognised organisation.

Seoul would give its assessment of IAEA’s examination of Japan’s wastewater discharge plan when it announces its own review, Park said.

“The government is doing our best to make the announcement as early as possible,” Park told a briefing.

While Seoul and Tokyo have taken steps in recent months to mend ties marred by historic disputes, Japan’s plan to release the wastewater remains contentious for its closest neighbour where some consumers have been snapping up sea salt ahead of the release.

South Korea’s Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun said on Tuesday the country will not lift a ban on Japanese food products from the area around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant until public concern over contamination ease.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, now in Japan, will visit South Korea from July 7 to 9 to explain the organisation’s findings on Japan’s planned discharge of water.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Ed Davies)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *