Japan made a hotly debated decision yesterday (Tuesday 22 August) that drew international attention, confirming that it will begin discharging more than 1 million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.
The plans, scheduled for release on Thursday, Aug. 24, have drawn strong criticism, especially from China, and sparked concern in neighboring countries.
The statement followed discussions with Japanese fisheries, a day after the government claimed to have gained “some degree of understanding” from fisheries organizations about the release to the Pacific.
Still, some fishing communities remain concerned that their livelihoods could be severely affected by potential reputational damage.
The first rollout will be done gradually and carefully, with additional monitoring.
The first phase will discharge about 7,800 cubic meters of water over about 17 days.
Japan claims that releasing the water is safe and meets international standards.
In July, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog, approved the plan, saying it would have minimal impact on people and the environment.
China reacted strongly to the news Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Criticizing the decision as “highly self-centered” and filing a formal complaint, it said it would take steps to protect marine ecosystems, food safety and public health.
On a larger scale, China has previously taken aggressive action against Japanese food imports. On July 7, Chinese customs announced a ban on the import of food from 10 Japanese prefectures including Fukushima Prefecture.
Read more: China bans food imports from Japan over nuclear water spill
Hong Kong responded immediately by activating import controls on Japanese seafood, covering areas including the capital Tokyo and Fukushima.
Macau has also decided to adopt this ban and extend it to all kinds of seafood products, including live, frozen, refrigerated, dried, as well as sea salt and seaweed.
In a statement on Tuesday, South Korea acknowledged the technical and scientific aspects of Japan’s plan, while maintaining a delicate stance. While they didn’t find the program to be technically flawed, they also didn’t fully endorse or support it.
flock of tourists
Hong Kong media conducted interviews with tourists heading for Japan from Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday, with headlines including “Japan released nuclear water on Thursday, but Hong Kong travel enthusiasts are not afraid” and “Seize the opportunity to enjoy sushi.”
Hong Kong media reported at the Hong Kong International Airport.The screenshot is from that
Ms. Chen, one of the tourists interviewed, shared her thoughts, saying, “I want to try Japanese seafood one last time on this trip, it’s like seizing a fleeting opportunity.”
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(Cover image via foodnavigator-asia.com)