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Japan takes S. Korea to WTO over ban on fishery products

South Korea expressed regret on Thursday over Tokyo's move to turn to the World Trade Organization to address Seoul's import ban on Japanese fishery goods.

South Korea has banned imports of all fishery products near the site of a nuclear accident in Fukushima since September 2013. The 2011 nuclear disaster sparked safety concerns as it led to a massive leak of radioactive materials and contaminated water.

"We express regret over Japan's request to the WTO for consultations," the South Korean government said in a press release.

The Japanese move came as South Korean experts were reviewing whether to ease the ban.

Under WTO rules on dispute settlement, consultations are the first step in working out a trade dispute, with talks to begin within 30 days of the request being filed.

If no agreement is reached within 60 days of the request filing, the complainant can ask for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel.

The Japanese move came amid soured relations between South Korea and Japan over their shared history, including the Japanese military's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. (Yonhap)