Fukushima nuclear power plant to release radioactive water into ocean from Thursday


About 56 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Japanese broadcaster FNN over the weekend said they supported the release, while 37 per cent opposed.

“The IAEA and many other countries have said it’s safe, so I believe it is. But fishermen are facing so many problems so the Japanese government needs to do something to convince them,” said 77-year-old NGO worker Hiroko Hashimoto.

One of protesters holds a poster saying in Japanese “Don’t make it dirty!” during a rally against the treated radioactive water release from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Japan.Credit: AP

Scepticism from Beijing

Despite assurances, some neighbouring countries have also expressed scepticism over the safety of the plan, with Beijing the biggest critic.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called the move “extremely selfish”. He said China was deeply concerned about the decision and had lodged a formal complaint.


Wang said China “will take all necessary measures to protect the marine environment, food safety, and public health,” but did not mention any specific measures.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee called the discharge “irresponsible” and said the city would “immediately activate” import controls on Japanese seafood from regions including capital Tokyo and Fukushima starting Thursday.

The ban, which will also be implemented by Macau, would cover live, frozen, refrigerated, dried seafood, as well as sea salt and seaweed.

South Korea said in a statement released Tuesday that it sees no problem with the scientific or technical aspects of the plan, but did not necessarily agree with or support it.

The matter has required President Yoon Suk Yeol to strike a balance as he seeks better relations with Japan while risking consumer backlash at home.

Despite the unease abroad, Kishida said he believed an “accurate understanding” of the matter was spreading in the international community.

Japan says it will remove most radioactive elements from the water except for tritium, a hydrogen isotope that must be diluted because it is difficult to filter.

“Nuclear power plants worldwide have routinely discharged water containing tritium for over 60 years without harm to people or the environment, most at higher levels than the 22 TBq per year planned for Fukushima,” Tony Irwin, an honorary associate professor at the Australian National University, said in a note.

A Japanese official said the first test results of the seawater after the discharge may be available at the start of September. Japan will also test fish in the waters near the plant, and make the test results available on the agriculture ministry’s website.


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