Japan’s neighbors are not happy with its call to dump contaminated Fukushima water into the sea.
China and South Korea say water from the destroyed nuclear power plant could affect food security.
Trendy hashtags on Chinese social media call for a boycott of Japanese seafood in protest.
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Japan has decided to dump the contaminated water accumulated in the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Pacific Ocean – but its neighbors are not happy.
Tokyo announced this week that it will gradually release more than 1.2 million tonnes of radioactive water – enough to fill 500 Olympic swimming pools.
Japan is storing water in reservoirs following the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown, which followed a devastating earthquake and tsunami that devastated coastal regions in northern Japan.
The South Korean and Chinese governments have expressed concerns that the radioactive water from the nuclear power plant could affect food security and have serious ramifications for marine life in the region.
According to Kyodo News, civic and environmental groups in South Korea held rallies in Seoul yesterday, holding up signs near the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest the move. Protesters held up banners with pictures of salmon steaks, shrimp and mussels with radioactive symbols slapped on them, shouting slogans and calling on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to reconsider his decision.
“The sea is not a garbage can. The Japanese government has no right to dirty the waters,” one person told Kyodo News.
The move has spawned more than a million comment threads on Chinese social media platform Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) in the past 24 hours.
Hashtags including: “Fukushima water could destroy half of the Pacific Ocean in 57 days” and “Japan inflicts disaster on other nations” surfaced on the platform. Some Weibo users have also called for a massive boycott of Japanese seafood, citing concerns about the “high radioactive content” of fish imported from Japanese suppliers.
Notably, the Fukushima fishermen’s unions also opposed the Japanese government’s move, arguing that dumping the water into the ocean would ruin a decade of work the fishing industry has invested in restoring its reputation.
The Japanese government assured its neighbors that it would filter the contaminated water before the release.
But that statement alone did not inspire confidence, given previous scandals in which Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) – the company involved in water treatment – has been involved. TEPCO admitted in 2018 that the radioactive material had not been filtered. of the water that it treated, although the company maintains for years that it had.
Reuters reported that South Korea summoned Koichi Aiboshi, Japan’s ambassador to Seoul, to formally express objections to the Japanese government’s decision.
South Korean media outlet SBS reported on Wednesday that President Moon Jae-in was considering filing a formal complaint with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea – an intergovernmental organization created by the UN.
Meanwhile, Koo Yoon-cheol, head of South Korea’s office for government policy coordination, told an emergency ministerial meeting that the country’s government would “take all necessary measures” to ensure the safety of its citizens.
“The decision can never be accepted and would not only endanger the safety and maritime environment of neighboring countries. It was also taken unilaterally without sufficient consultations with our country, which is Japan’s closest neighbor,” Koo said.
“We will strongly demand that Japan take concrete measures to ensure the safety of our citizens and avoid any damage to the maritime environment,” he added.
Koo also called for transparency on how contaminated water is treated and called for regular inspections to be carried out.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media Xinhua reported a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry, which called the decision to release nuclear water “extremely irresponsible.”
“The Fukushima nuclear accident is one of the most serious in the world. The leak of large quantities of radioactive material has had profound implications for the marine environment, food security and human health,” the spokesperson said. speech of Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian.
The Chinese also called the Pacific Ocean a “shared property of mankind” while strongly urging Japan to “fulfill its international obligations and duly address the serious concerns of the international community, neighboring countries and its own people. “.
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