Several countries protest against Japan's discharge of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.


Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that the total volume of contaminated water exceeds 1.3 million tons, and the process of discharging the water is expected to take about 30 years.

Japan has already started discharging treated nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, an action that has elicited intense criticism and protests from many countries, accusing it of being selfish and irresponsible.

In the lengthy and difficult process of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the discharge of nuclear wastewater is a critical step, which includes the removal of melted fuel destroyed by the tsunami. Two years ago, the Japanese government approved this plan, and last month, the United Nations nuclear watchdog endorsed the plan.

Several countries, including China, strongly oppose Japan's plan and have stated that the Japanese government has not demonstrated the legality of discharging nuclear wastewater. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Japan in a statement of causing secondary harm to local and global populations for its own self-interest. China will take measures to protect the marine environment and public health, and will strengthen radiation level monitoring in its waters after this discharge.

In March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a powerful tsunami, leading to the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and three of its reactors. Japan's wastewater discharge has unsettled other countries in the region, with the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, stating that while scientific research supports Japan's decision, the region may not reach a consensus on this "complex" issue.

Japanese fishing groups, whose reputation has been damaged over the years due to radiation concerns, have continuously opposed the plan, fearing that the wastewater discharge will further lead to sales losses, including import restrictions from major markets. The Prime Minister of South Korea has said that the ban on the import of Fukushima's fishery products and food will continue until the public's concerns are alleviated.

According to the plan announced by Japan, the first discharge of Fukushima's nuclear wastewater will amount to 7,800 cubic meters (equivalent to about three Olympic-sized swimming pools) and will be completed in about 17 days. Tokyo Electric Power Company's test results show that the water contains about 63 becquerels of tritium per liter, well below the World Health Organization's limit of 10,000 becquerels per liter for drinking water.

Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that the total amount of nuclear wastewater exceeds 1.3 million tons, and the process of discharging the wastewater will take about 30 years. The Japanese Minister of the Environment has stated that monitoring will be carried out around the discharge area and results will be published weekly.

Despite the South Korean government's statement that its assessment found no problems with the discharge in terms of science and technology, civil groups in both Japan and South Korea have launched large-scale protests.

Additionally, several countries and regions, including China (Hong Kong and Macau), have stated they will ban the import of Japanese seafood from Tokyo and Fukushima among other areas. Data from the General Administration of Customs of China shows that in the first seven months of 2023, the country imported Japanese aquatic products worth 2.3451 billion yuan (about 32.3 million USD), a 29% decrease compared to the same period last year.

Japan's insistence on discharging nuclear wastewater into the Pacific will not only provoke protests and accusations from various countries and civil groups but will also deal a more significant blow to Japan's food export industry. Data shows that in 2022, Japan's export of aquatic products exceeded 300 billion yen, about 2.3 times more than ten years ago. Scallop and sea cucumber exports to China have played a role in boosting this figure. If aquatic products are banned by various countries, Japan's seafood industry might face a critical blow once again.

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