Response: Japan bound to face intl condemnation
China has suspended imports of all aquatic products originating in Japan, and will closely track and assess the impacts of Japan's act of dumping radioactive water into the ocean, in order to safeguard its national interests and public health.
The suspension took effect on Thursday, when Japan started releasing contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Customs authorities are deeply concerned about the radioactive risks posed by the discharge to Japanese aquatic products being exported to China, the GAC said in a statement.
In accordance with relevant Chinese laws and regulations, as well as the provisions of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Customs authorities have decided to take enhanced control measures regarding aquatic products originating in Japan, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions also put into effect on Thursday their separate bans on aquatic products from 10 Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo, Fukushima and Chiba.
Also on Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao lodged a strong protest with Masataka Okano, Japan's vice-minister for foreign affairs.
Disregarding the strong doubts and opposition from both domestic and international sources, Japan is shifting the nuclear-contamination risk to its neighboring countries, including China, and the international community, Wu said.
Japan is prioritizing its own interests above the long-term well-being of the people in the region and around the world. China demands an immediate halt to this "extremely selfish and irresponsible" behavior, Wu added.
At a news conference on Thursday, Ministry of Commerce spokeswoman Shu Jueting said: "The Chinese government puts the people first. It will take all necessary measures to safeguard food safety and public health."
In a media release earlier in the day, the National Nuclear Safety Administration said it will step up efforts to "effectively safeguard the country's national interests and public health".
Based on its monitoring in 2021 and 2022, the administration has figured out the radiation levels in China's sea areas, according to the release. The current overall levels are within the fluctuation range of previous years and the administration will strengthen its monitoring work, the release said.
On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave the final go-ahead to the plan to gradually release more than 1 million metric tons of radioactive water into the ocean.
The Foreign Ministry reiterated on Thursday that China had made serious demarches to Japan on the issue and asked it to stop its wrongdoing.
"Since humanity began using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, there has been neither any precedent nor universally recognized standards for discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean," a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
From the moment Japan started the discharge, it has put itself in the dock in front of the international community and is bound to face international condemnation for many years to come, the statement said.
Some Pacific leaders have already condemned Japan's move. Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Matai Seremaiah said that Japan's decision calls for robust actions, and urged polluters to "seriously consider other options", Xinhua News Agency reported.
The leaders of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia's ruling party, as well as members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, are meeting in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, for the 22nd MSG Leaders' Summit. Seremaiah said they are pushing for a declaration to denounce Japan's move.
In Tokyo, civic groups rallied on Thursday in front of the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima plant, demanding an immediate halt to the release of radioactive water into the ocean.
Seoul, Busan and the southern island of Jeju in South Korea also saw protests.
The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Korea, has proposed a law aimed at banning imports of seafood exposed to radioactive water, which could include all fishery products from Japan, party spokeswoman Lee So-young said on Thursday.