Japanese public opposes plan to dump radioactive water into sea

2023-01-16 14:24:17 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The Japanese government's latest radioactive wastewater discharge plan scheduled for this spring or summer is facing an angry backlash among the public, especially those in the fishing industry, who felt uneasy about the decision.

The Japanese government on Friday said a controversial plan to release radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan's northeast into the Pacific Ocean will start in the spring or summer.

Japan's dumping of the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea is suspected of violating the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, as well as the 1996 protocol to the convention, Masahide Kimura, member of a Japanese anti-nuclear campaign group, told Xinhua.

Such a plan also violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as Japan's foreign ministry admitted that the area where the discharge occurred is not of inland waters, Kimura said.

Kimura believed that spreading radioactive materials should not be allowed, as only storage is the means of prevention, and efforts should be prioritized to stop the inflow of groundwater and prevent the continued increase of nuclear-contaminated water.

Japan's environment ministry has not yet assessed the environmental impact of the decades-long discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the North Pacific Ocean, he noted.

"The opposition to the discharge of treated water into the ocean has not changed in the slightest," Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan, said in a statement on Friday, demanding a serious response from the government.

Government support for the fishing industry is essential to make up for the damage done to its reputation, Takuya Tasso, governor of Japan's Iwate Prefecture, told the press.

Despite strengthened information released by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) since last December, the discharge plan at present has not yet gained the "full understanding of citizens and fishery stakeholders," according to Hiroyuki Uchida, mayor of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.

Uchida hoped that the government and TEPCO would earnestly fulfill their original commitment, which meant no disposal of the nuclear-polluted water will be carried out without the understanding of relevant parties.

An official with the Miyagi Prefecture Fisheries Co-operative told the press that they will continue to express opposition, ensuring that fishermen do not suffer losses while firmly stating what is necessary to sustain their livelihoods.

In fact, the government's plan to dump the contaminated water into the sea has been opposed by civil groups in Japan since it was launched in April 2021.

Last September, a joint petition of 42,000 people opposing the discharge plan and demanding other ways to deal with the contaminated water was submitted to TEPCO and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry by representatives from livelihood co-operative societies in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures as well as the fisheries association of Miyagi.

About 51 percent of respondents were "against" and "relatively opposed" to the idea of discharging the filtered wastewater into the sea after diluting it to national standards, according to a survey by the country's public broadcaster NHK at the end of 2020.

A poll published by the Asahi Shimbun in early 2021 showed that 55 percent surveyed were opposed to the disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea after treatment.


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