Adoption of the Reports of the Appellate Body and the Panel on
“Korea – Import Bans, and Testing and Certification Requirements for Radionuclides”
in the WTO Dispute Settlement Procedures
April 26, 2019
1. On April 26 (same day Geneva time), the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) adopted the report of the Appellate Body and the report of the Panel, as partially modified by the Appellate Body, were adopted concerning the dispute “Korea – Import Bans, and Testing and Certification Requirements for Radionuclides” in which Japan had filed its complaints against the Republic of Korea under the WTO dispute settlement procedures.
2. On the adoption of the reports, H.E. Ambassador Junichi Ihara of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva delivered a statement (English (PDF) / Japanese (PDF)) which is summarized as follows.
(1) Japan considers the rulings of the Appellate Body Report extremely regrettable because the Appellate Body Report could have significant repercussions for the efforts to rebuild the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
(2) Japan is deeply concerned that the Appellate Body Report dismissed the Panel’s findings founded on solid scientific evidence. Japan finds it troubling that, while reversing the Panel’s findings on account of insufficiency of the Panel’s analysis, the Appellate Body Report neglects to express the long-awaited view on the WTO-consistency of the measures at issue.
(3) The Appellate Body Report is not conducive to settlement of the dispute. Japan questions the attitude of the Appellate Body which shies away from delivering judgement on the WTO-consistency of the challenged measures. This unfortunate outcome also raises a systemic issue. Japan is keen to discuss, together with other WTO Members, this systemic issue collectively.
(4) The factual findings made by the Panel on the safety of Japanese food products are undisputed. Japan will continue to call on the countries and territories which maintain import restriction measures on food products from Japan to expeditiously lift these measures.
(5) The Japanese Government will spare no efforts to secure the removal of unjustified import restrictions on Japanese food products. Furthermore, Japan will constructively engage in the ongoing discussion on the dispute settlement mechanism.
3. Following Japan’s statement, many Members made remarks in support of points made by Japan.
[Reference] Timeline and outline of this case
(1) Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident in March 2011, the Republic of Korea introduced import restriction measures on products imported from Japan including fishery products. In September 2013, the Republic of Korea adopted additional restriction measures: (i) banning importation of all fishery products from eight prefectures (see below) and (ii) extending the requirements for additional radionuclides testing to all Japanese food products including fishery products.
Eight prefectures: Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi and Tochigi
(2) Considering these measures could be inconsistent with obligations under the WTO Agreement, in May 2015, Japan requested consultations with the Republic of Korea pursuant to the WTO dispute settlement procedures. Following the consultations in June 2015, Japan requested the establishment of a panel in August 2015. In September 2015, the Panel was established.
(3) In February 2018, the Panel Report was circulated to WTO Members. The Panel Report found that the Republic of Korea’s imports restriction measures were inconsistent with the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), and recommended that the Republic of Korea bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the SPS Agreement.
(4) In the WTO dispute settlement system, the parties to a dispute can appeal issues of law covered in the panel report to the Appellate Body. The Republic of Korea appealed certain issues of law contained in the Panel Report to the Appellate Body in April 2018.
(5) The Appellate Body Report issued on 11 April reversed certain findings made by the Panel.
(6) In accordance with the relevant provision of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), the Appellate Body Report was adopted at the meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) held on 26 April.