Protesters in the Republic of Korea and the Philippines voiced against Japan's release of the nuclear-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean over the weekend as concerns about its environmental impact are mounting.
Tens of thousands of ROK citizens gathered on Saturday and called on the government to take retaliatory action. In Manila, fisherfolk expressed solidarity with Japanese fishers in protest against the Japanese government's "ill-conceived action".
The massive rally in Seoul was held near City Hall, with the participation of some 90 civic groups and members of four opposition parties, including the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, or DP, Yonhap News Agency said.
Addressing the protesters, DP leader Lee Jae-myung said Japan should immediately stop releasing nuclear water that threatens the health of people all over the world.
Lee said Japan is starting another Pacific war by conducting environmental crimes and it should apologize to the ROK, the nearest country suffering the most damage.
About 50,000 people participated in the rally, the organizers said. Police put the number at around 7,000.
Kim Young-bok, vice-chairman of the National Fisheries Federation, urged the government to ban the import of Japanese marine products and protect the lives of people by filing a complaint with the international maritime court.
The ROK has banned seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima since 2013.
The DP has launched a petition to call for an end to the toxic water release.
More than 660,000 people had signed the online petition by Sunday noon, leaving comments like "Let us protect our children together", "I oppose the release of nuclear-contaminated water", and "Please stop the release of the nuclear water".
In a briefing on Sunday, Kwon Chil-seung, DP chief spokesperson, said ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol should respond to the people's request to ask Japan to stop its toxic water release.
The ROK sent a team of three experts from the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety on Sunday to the Fukushima office of the International Atomic Energy Agency. On the same day, four ROK lawmakers attended a protest in Fukushima organized by the Social Democratic Party of Japan.
A statement by people working in the fisheries industry in the ROK, which was published on the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives' website on Friday, said seafood consumption had fallen rapidly even before the release of nuclear-contaminated water.
In Manila on Saturday, Philippine fisherfolk, youth and environmental groups protested in front of the Japanese embassy to oppose the discharge.
In a joint statement, the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines, the Earth Island Institute and the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, said the Japanese move is "simply unacceptable".
Ronnel Arambulo, a national spokesperson of the fisherfolk organization, said it will continue to reach out to the international community to pressure Japan to suspend its water discharge and seek alternative ways to dispose of its nuclear waste.