US military buys Japan scallops after China's ban on Japanese seafood

The U.S. military bought 907kg of Japanese scallops.

Brenda Khoo | November 04, 2023, 06:25 PM



The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, revealed to Reuters in an exclusive interview on Oct. 31 that the U.S. military is buying Japanese scallops, in response to China's ban on Japanese seafood.

'Tiny' fraction of Japan's seafood exports to China

To mitigate Japan's trade challenges resulting from what Emanuel calls as part of China's "economic coercion", the U.S. military bought 2,000 pounds (907kg) of Japan's scallops on Oct. 31.

These scallops would be sold in the commissaries in 17 U.S. military bases and on board U.S. Navy vessels, shared Emanuel.

Emanuel acknowledged that this purchase constitutes only a "tiny" fraction of Japan's seafood exports to China. For instance, Japan exported nearly 180,000 tons (almost 400,000 pounds) of seafood to mainland China and Hong Kong in 2022.

Emanuel conveyed the U.S' intentions to expand its import of Japanese seafood to encompass "all types of seafood", albeit recognising that the U.S. military is unlikely to replace the Chinese market entirely.

Emphasising that this move is "one step" in countering China's ban, Emanuel called on Washington to consider a broader approach. He suggested that the "best way" to "wear out China's economic coercion" is for the U.S. to "come to the aid and assistance" of the affected country or industry.

China ban on seafood

China's ban on "all aquatic products" from Japan came one day after Japan released radioactive wastewater from its Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean on Aug. 24.

This ban has been in effect since then, compounding trade challenges for Japan.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has sent several teams of inspectors to Japan to review the plan, and declared earlier this year that the release of the water met international safety standards.

In response to Emanuel's interview, China's spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, maintained the official stance that the ban was implemented due to "food safety and public health" concerns.

During a press conference on Oct. 30, Wang also underscored the role of diplomats in promoting friendly relations between countries, and "not to conduct smear campaigns" or "sow discord".

US relations with China

Emanuel, a long-term Democratic Party operative, a former congressman, and Chief of Staff to former U.S. President Barack Obama, had been making snarky comments on social media throughout September, over issues such as the disappearance of former China defence minister Li Shangfu from the public eye.

However, the White House intervened in late September, urging him to cease his taunts to avoid a further deterioration of U.S.-China ties.

They were also concerned that Emanuel's notoriously combative attitude may derail potential plans for a meeting between Xi and U.S. President Biden at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, scheduled for Nov. 11 to 17.

You can view Emanuel's post on X here:

Top image from USAmbJapan/X.

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