The phrase "No Country for Japanese Seafood" is on a sign apparently written by South Koreans. Is it natural in English? Does it mean "no country will accept Japanese seafood"?

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Source: Nature

Scientists OK plan to release one million tonnes of waste water from Fukushima Neighbouring nations have denounced Japan’s plan to release water used to cool the nuclear plant's melted reactors into the sea, but researchers say the dangers are low.

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    Probably modelled on the movie title No Country for Old Men. It's not really "valid English" - you could interpret it as a kind of "cut-down headlinese" version of This is no country for X (i.e. - This country doesn't endorse / isn't suitable for X). But you can't really expect to learn English by looking at how non-Anglophones "translate" their own slogans. May 7, 2021 at 14:59
  • (There's little if any meaning to the naming of Colgate Dare To Love Toothpaste as marketed to Far Eastern customers, for example. It's just that many of those customers think English has "cachet", regardless of whether the literal meanings or syntax make sense.) May 7, 2021 at 15:03
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    In this case, the "meaning" of the English text can't really be answered by a native Anglophone. What it means is effectively whatever the other placard says (which I'm guessing should be fairly clear-cut to South Koreans, at least). May 7, 2021 at 15:06
  • My Korean is very limited, but I can tell you that the other placard says something very different. There's no specific reference in there to Japan or seafood.
    – stangdon
    May 7, 2021 at 15:20
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    Of course, it is based on the Cohen brothers' movie title.....gees. It means no country wants irradiated fish from Japanese fishing waters.
    – Lambie
    May 7, 2021 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


It is not natural in English. It is so unnatural that I am unable to make a reliable guess on what it is meant to mean.

Some guesses: "No country will accept radioactive Japanese seafood." "This is not a country that wants Japanese seafood."

Or, as mentioned in a comment, it may be a play on the English idiom "No country for ____" which commonly refers to the geography or people in the area being harsh on a particular class of people. In this case, fish.

  • No Country for Old Men: no doubt about the origin of it. It's great, creatively speaking.
    – Lambie
    May 7, 2021 at 16:56
  • I agree. It's quite a leap. May 7, 2021 at 20:36

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