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Import Control on Japanese Food

Background information

In April 2021, the Government of Japan announced the plan to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station (FNPS) into the ocean after treatment in about two years’ time (i.e., 2023). The plan has aroused concern from the international community and the public. Many stakeholders are concerned the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean would have serious impact on the marine ecosystem, the food chain and food safety. The HKSAR Government has repeatedly expressed grave concern about the impact of the discharge plan on food safety, and has indicated clearly to the Japanese authorities that they should not discharge the nuclear-contaminated water from the FNPS into the ocean unilaterally without the consensus of the international community so as to avoid bringing about irreversible impacts on the environment.

The Japanese Government announced on 22 August 2023 that discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water would commence on 24 August. The Japanese Government, in disregard of the concerns and opposition of the international community, insisted on proceeding with discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The HKSAR Government strongly opposed such move.

The nuclear-contaminated water at the FNPS originated from a nuclear incident. It had direct contact with active raw materials of the nuclear reactor and contains a high concentration of radioactive substances. Such 1.3 million cubic metres of nuclear-contaminated water is being stored in some 1 000 tanks at the FNPS. Discharging the nuclear-contaminated water generated from nuclear incidents into the ocean for a period of 30 years has no precedent in the international arena.

The discharge will last for 30 years. As the nuclear-contaminated water in Fukushima was generated from nuclear incident, proper and safe processing of such nuclear-contaminated water, which had direct contact with the raw active nuclear fuel, is extremely complicated. It is a real issue that worries the public as to how the Japanese authorities will ensure the long-term effective operation of the treatment facility continuously, and how they will ensure that the discharge plan will not pose any potential risks to food safety and the marine ecosystem. It has been reported recently that the radioactive Caesium level of a fish captured by the Tokyo Electric Power Company in the harbour of Fukushima in May 2023 exceeded the standard value stipulated in the food sanitation law of Japan by 180 times. This incident suggested that the long term potential risks of the nuclear-contaminated water from FNPS on food safety should not be overlooked.

The HKSAR Government's inter-departmental taskforce, comprised of the Environment and Ecology Bureau, Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), the Department of Health and the Government Laboratory, has reviewed the final report published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on July 4. Having considered the final report of the IAEA, relevant information provided by Japan, opinions of the experts in the Mainland and risk assessments, the HKSAR Government has come to the view that there is currently no guarantee that the purification system can operate continuously and effectively in the long term after the commencement of the discharge plan, and that the plan will not pose any potential risks to food safety and marine ecology.

Import restrictions on Japanese food

To ensure that all relevant food imported from Japan is safe and fit for consumption, based on the precautionary principle, the HKSAR Government, from 24 August 2023 onwards, prohibits the import of all aquatic products originating from the ten metropolis/prefectures, namely Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano and Saitama. These aquatic products include all live, frozen, chilled, dried, or otherwise preserved aquatic products, sea salt and unprocessed or processed seaweed.

In addition, the HKSAR Government will maintain the existing import control measures on certain food products against the five prefectures, i.e., Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma, since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident. At present, vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and dried milk originating from Fukushima are banned from importing into Hong Kong while such foods originating from the four prefectures nearby Fukushima, i.e., Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma, are allowed to be imported on the condition that they are accompanied with a radiation certificate and an exporter certificate issued by the Japanese authority. Chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry and poultry eggs originating from the above five prefectures are allowed to be imported on the condition that they are accompanied with a radiation certificate issued by the Japanese authority which shows the radiation levels do not exceed the Codex Guideline Levels.

Enhanced surveillance

Apart from prohibiting aquatic products of relevant metropolis/prefectures from being imported into Hong Kong, CFS will perform its gatekeeping role at the import level, continue enhancing the testing on imported Japanese food and to achieve dual protection on the safety of imported Japanese food. All aquatic products imported from Japan must undergo radiological tests before entering the Hong Kong market. AFCD and HKO will also enhance the tests on local catch and the environmental monitoring of the local waters.

With the view to enabling members of the public could have a better grasp of the latest safety information on imported Japanese food products, the Environment and Ecology Bureau will make public announcements every working day regarding the radiological testing results of the imported food from Japan, as well as the results of environmental radiation monitoring and radiological testing on local catch. The Centre for Food Safety, the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Hong Kong Observatory will announce relevant results on their respective websites.

Links to relevant food surveillance and environmental monitoring data are set out below –

Important press releases



For enquiries concerning import of Japanese food, please contact 2522 1004 for Food Import Control Office (Special Duties) (for import by sea) or 2116 8250 for the Airport Food Inspection Office (for import by air) during office hour. For any enquiries concerning food safety, please send your enquiries to or visit the website of CFS on commonly asked questions regarding the control measures on food imported from Japan.

10 October 2023