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(LEAD) S. Korea bans food imports from contaminated Japanese regions

All Headlines 17:26 March 25, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more details, background)

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government on Friday announced a temporary ban on some food imports from four Japanese regions contaminated by radiation from the island nation's stricken nuclear power plant.

The ban, which took effect immediately, applies to some food from the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma, which are all in the northeast of the neighboring country devastated by a killer quake and tsunami two weeks ago, the prime minister's office said.

The banned food includes spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and milk, items presently on the Japanese government's list of food restricted for consumption or shipment due to radioactive contamination, it said.

The ban will remain active until fears of contamination are eased in Japan, Yoon Dong-han, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters after a government policy coordination meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik.

Radiation has been leaking from a Fukushima nuclear power plant, 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Sendai, Japan, triggered a massive tsunami. More than 20,000 people have been killed or listed as missing after the March 11 quake.

Seoul will add to the ban list any other food items found to have high radiation levels or restricted from shipping by the Japanese government, Yoon said.

The U.S. and Australia have also halted imports of dairy and produce from the four Japanese areas, while Italy banned all food products originating from Japan.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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