04/14/2021, 12.40
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South Korea, Taiwan, and China against releasing Fukushima wastewater at sea

South Korea wants to take Japan to an international court. Taiwan and China demand the involvement of neighbouring countries before any decision is made. China is threatening action. For the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Japan’s plan meets scientific standards.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – South Korea, Taiwan and China are protesting against Japan's plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, damaged 10 years ago by a tsunami, into the sea.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday said that a million tonnes of wastewater used to cool crippled reactors no longer pose a danger to safety and health.

He stressed that the operation would be conducted in such a way as to protect the local fishing industry, which was concerned about the damage to its image.

In addition to fishermen, environmental groups and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan are opposed to the initiative.

South Korea today said that it was prepared to take Tokyo to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in issued the instruction before meeting with Japan’s new ambassador to South Korea for his accreditation ceremony. A sign of how serious South Korea is taking the issue, the meeting included other foreign ambassadors.

For the South Korean government, the legal initiative includes a formal request for the tribunal to move against Japan’s decision to release wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

The Suga administration explained that the disposal process will begin in two years' time, and that the released waters will be treated through an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS).

The latter removes the most radioactive elements, such as strontium and caesium, from wastewater, leaving only non-harmful quantities of tritium. For environmental groups, more innovative methods exist.

Taiwan has not been convinced by Japan’s reassuring claims. Taiwanese authorities have asked the Japanese government to cooperate with its neighbours before making a final decision.

Its Atomic Energy Council has urged Japanese authorities to share information on what impact the release will have at sea.

China, for once, agrees with Taiwan. According to Beijing, the Japanese are being “irresponsible.”

Without giving details, China has threatened to take action against Japan, whose decision is seen as a danger to the health and safety not only of the peoples of the region, but of the whole world as well.

A study by Nanjing University of Science and Technology in China suggests that caesium leaked following the Fukushima accident has already polluted the East China Sea.

Like Taiwan, China is concerned that it was not properly consulted by Japan.

However, Japan has received support from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“In this unique and challenging situation, Japan has weighed the options and effects, has been transparent about its decision and appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards,” said a spokesperson for the US State Department. 

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