South Korea said Friday its own analysis of Japan's plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea shows it meets international safety standards, but added it will keep an import ban on Japanese seafood from Fukushima and some other prefectures amid safety concerns.

The analysis, showing that radioactive materials in the water are within acceptable levels, is based on the findings of a delegation of South Korean experts who conducted an on-site inspection of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in May.

The South Korean government announces on July 7, 2023, in Seoul its own analysis of Japan's plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Kyodo)

The ban on imports of Japanese seafood from Fukushima and seven other prefectures affected by the 2011 nuclear crisis will remain in place until public fears over the safety of the produce subsides, the South Korean government said.

The announcement on the safety of the water discharge came after South Korea on Wednesday said it respects the results of the International Atomic Energy Agency's review in which it endorsed the safety of the plan.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, on a visit to Japan, submitted a report on the review to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday.

Since Japan announced its decision to release treated radioactive water into the sea in April 2021, there had been strong opposition to the plan among the South Korean public due to concerns that the water could be harmful to people's health and the environment.

South Korea's fisheries ministry has held a series of nationwide briefings for the public since early June to explain seafood safety, in an effort to ease people's worries over the water discharge.

Meanwhile, China, another country concerned over the plan, suggested Friday that it could tighten controls on food imports from Japan if the water discharge begins.

China's customs authorities said in a statement the planned water release has caused worries among Chinese consumers and pledged to "maintain a high degree of vigilance" and "take all necessary measures in a timely manner according to the development of the situation."

China has banned food imports from Fukushima and nine other prefectures since the 2011 accident.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday rejected Japan's claim that nuclear power plants in China and South Korea have previously discharged liquid waste containing high levels of tritium, a radioactive material.

Wang said that there is "a fundamental difference" between water released by nuclear plants during normal operations and the water from Fukushima plant, which "came into direct contact with" melted fuel at the reactor cores.

"No comparison can be drawn between the two as they come from different sources," Wang said. He also criticized Japan for "whitewashing" its ocean discharge plan and "fooling the international community under the disguise of science," repeating Beijing's demand that Tokyo halts the planned water release.

Photo taken from the town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan shows Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on July 4, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Related coverage:

IAEA opens office at Fukushima nuclear plant before water release

South Korea says it respects IAEA report on Fukushima water release plan

IAEA assures safety of water release from Fukushima disaster site