China has opposed Japan’s decision to release contaminated nuclear wastewater into the ocean. One possible reason for this is China’s seafood imports from Japan, resulting in China imposing a ban on Japan’s food exports.

The matter has gathered mixed opinions from the public, which prompted Real Research, an online survey app, to conduct a survey on China’s import ban on Japanese food products. Overall, the results from the study indicated that respondents were not necessarily affected by China’s ban. A majority even claimed they would continue to consume food from Japan.


  • 32.96% believed that the global food market would be positively affected if China expanded its restrictions on importing Japanese food products.
  • 40.31% felt that it is likely that China-Japan diplomatic relations could be negatively affected as a result of the ban
  • 53.77% were very confident about the IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency) ability to monitor and regulate the release of treated nuclear wastewater effectively

Why is Japan doing this?

The Japanese are working to restore the damages caused by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, triggered by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Seawater seeped into the power plant’s nuclear reactor, causing water contamination that exists to this day.

Now, after over thirteen years, experts have concluded a “safe” method to dispose of the contaminated water without posing threats to society.

How will the water be released?

The water will be released into the sea after being treated multiple times to remove dangerous elements. Once treated, filtered, and stored, the wastewater will be tested for radioactive isotopes. Once the readings indicate safe levels of radioactive elements, the water will be released into the Pacific Ocean through an undersea tunnel off the coast.

Reasons for China’s Japan-foods import ban

China is one of Japan’s leading buyers of food products, particularly seafood. Due to concerns about the dangers of possible radioactive contamination, Chinese authorities fear the consumption of Japanese food products.

What did the survey reveal about China’s import ban on Japanese food products?

To begin with, 67.34% of respondents knew about Chinese customs banning seafood imports from Japan, while 32.66% didn’t.

Furthermore, as Fig 1 below indicates, 37.16% of respondents were very concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of Japan’s plan to discharge radioactive water. 35.06% were somewhat concerned. 22.68% were not concerned and 5.1% were not concerned at all.

Fig 1: Health and environmental impacts of Japan’s plan to release the treated water

As the above suggests, a collective of 72.22% were concerned about the impacts of releasing the treated contaminated water. Some of these concerns were health and environment-related.

Read Also: Survey on Japan Releasing Contaminated Water from Fukushima Power Plant to the Ocean

These concerns could be related to any potential harm that the water may contain. In this case, there are concerns about a hydrogen isotope called radioactive ‘tritium,’ which cannot be taken away due to the lack of technology to do so. However, Japan’s government and the IAEA say the contaminated water will be highly diluted and released slowly over decades. The release will also be monitored by the IAEA to regulate the release.

Accordingly, the survey on China banning seafood imports from Japan also asked respondents how confident they were in the IAEA’s ability to effectively monitor and regulate the release of treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean. Up to 53.77% were ‘very confident,’ and 24.52% were somewhat confident. On the contrary, 4.84% were not confident, and 4.2% were not at all confident. 12.67% were of no opinion regarding the matter.

China possibly extending the ban across all Japanese food products

In addition to China’s import ban on Japanese seafood products, authorities have been discussing a possible extension of the ban on all Japanese food products. Respondents from the survey were asked for their stance on this; 37.52% were neutral, 34.4% were in support of China’s decision to do so, and 28.08% opposed it.

Will the ban affect China-Japan diplomatic relations?

Since China’s import ban on Japanese food products, the question of whether the ban will affect the countries’ diplomatic relations have continued.

When respondents were asked about the above, a collective 75.92% said it is likely (40.31% said it was likely and said ‘very likely’ 35.61%) that diplomatic relations would be affected as a result of the ban. 20.8% suggested that there would be no effect on China-Japan diplomatic relations, and finally, 21.36% had no opinion.

Fig 2: Strained diplomatic relations?

This could be due to the aforementioned reason that China is one of Japan’s prime seafood buyers. A ban such as this could affect the Japanese economy rather significantly.

Impact on the global food market

Another poll revealed that despite the negative effects of China’s import ban on Japanese food products, the global food market may be affected positively (32.96%), negatively (24.8%), no effect (20.8%), and unsure (21.36%).

Would respondents be prepared to consume Japan’s seafood exports?

Fig 3: a majority of respondents would consume Japan’s seafood exports.

Finally, the survey asks respondents if they would consume Japan’s seafood exports after the release of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. 28.92% said they will continue to consume, unconcerned, 24.77% will consume but with caution, whereas 25.09% will not continue to consume Japanese seafood exports. To the rest, 21.22% of respondents, the question is not applicable, likely because they do not consume Japanese seafood.


Survey TitleSurvey on China Banning Seafood Imports From Japan
DurationJuly 15 – July 22, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.