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Fukushima’s Contested Water Release: Japan’s Call to China Amid Fukushima Discharge Controversy.
In a meeting between top officials from Japan and China, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi appealed to China to consider the forthcoming release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant using a methodical, scientifically grounded approach. This call was made on Friday in dialogue with Wang Yi, China’s most senior diplomat.
The decision by Japan to initiate the release of an excess of one million tonnes of water from the critically damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant this summer has created ripples of unease among its neighbors and the local fishing community. China has expressed the loudest criticisms, articulating fears that the plan could pose significant risks to both the environment and human populations.
According to Reuters, In discussions with Wang, happening coincidentally with an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering in Indonesia, Hayashi communicated Japan’s openness to a dialogue with China concerning the water discharge, advocating for a science-based approach. This was reported by the Japanese foreign ministry in an official statement.
The ministry’s statement quoted Hayashi’s call for China to “respond in a scientific manner”. It appears that the water release issue was a dominant topic during the hour-long conversation between Wang and Hayashi. However, despite lengthy discussions, the two did not arrive at any definitive consensus on the issue, as later conveyed by a Japanese foreign ministry representative.
While China’s worries about the water discharge are significant, the United Nations’ nuclear oversight agency has completed a thorough analysis of the plan, determining that the impact should be “negligible”. Their evaluation confirms that the discharge will comply with established international standards.
Japan’s government insists that the water is being treated to extract most radioactive materials, with the exception of tritium, a variant of hydrogen that is challenging to separate from water. They plan to dilute the treated water to levels of tritium significantly below those that are internationally accepted, prior to its release into the Pacific.
At an ASEAN conference on Thursday, Hayashi defended Japan’s approach and countered that China’s objections were “not rooted in scientific evidence”, as cited by Japan’s foreign ministry.
The encounter between Hayashi and Wang also underscored the escalating tensions between the two nations over China’s growing maritime presence in the region. Hayashi highlighted Japan’s “strong concerns over China’s increasing military activity conducted within the vicinity of Japan” and China’s expanding military collaboration with Russia in the course of the meeting.
Topics: Japan’s Appeal to China over Fukushima, Impact of Fukushima’s Water Release, Radioactive Tritium in Fukushima Water, ASEAN Meeting Diplomatic Tensions, Japan-China Dialogue over Environmental Science
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