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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visits the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant over the weekend. (Photo: Prime Minister's Office of Japan/Twitter)

Despite Outcry, Japanese Prime Minister Urges Swift Release of Fukushima Wastewater Into Sea

South Korea has said the release of the radioactive wastewater poses a "grave threat" to marine life.

Julia Conley

A South Korean official on Monday denounced Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's call to begin releasing contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea starting in 2023.
 
Kishida, who took office last month, visited the plant over the weekend and said the plan to release more than one million tonnes of water into the sea over 30 years should not be delayed.
 
The radioactive wastewater has continued to accumulate at the power plant site since three nuclear reactors melted down after the March 2011 tsunami, forcing the evacuation of more than 150,000 people.

"Japan's decision was made without enough consultation with the neighboring nations."

 
"I felt strongly that the water issue is a crucial one that should not be pushed back," Kishida told reporters.
 
According to The Times, South Korean officials, who continue to ban seafood imports from the region due to safety concerns, were not consulted by Kishida's government before the announcement.
 
"Japan's decision was made without enough consultation with the neighboring nations," a South Korean diplomat told the outlet.
 
According to the prime minister, the government will make extensive efforts to ensure the water is safe, despite the fact that the Advanced Liquid Processing System used by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to treat the wastewater is not able to remove tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
 
Experts say tritium is only harmful to humans in large doses, but South Korean officials have said the release of the water poses a "grave threat" to marine life in the Pacific Ocean.
 
The plan to move forward with the release of wastewater represents a "radioactive assault" on the ocean "and all those who share its shores," tweeted Alex Mihailovich, a correspondent for RT America.
 
 
Kishida has said that nuclear power, including the restart of nuclear reactors that were put out of commission after the Fukushima meltdown, must be part of Japan's energy economy in order to ensure the country is carbon neutral by 2050. The prime minister has not yet confirmed if he'll attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow beginning later this month.
 
Japan's economy and industry ministry in 2019 recommended the wastewater, which is being stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site of the nuclear plant, either be released into the sea or evaporated.
 
The local fishing industry, which has not been able to resume full operations since the 2011 disaster, have strongly opposed the release of the water into the sea, with the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association warning it would have an "immeasurable impact on the future of the Japanese fishing industry."
 
Evaporation was used to get rid of wastewater following the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, but experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency, have said releasing the water into the sea is the only feasible option.
 
"A release to the sea is technologically a realistic option, but its social impact would be huge," Naoya Sekiya, a sociologist at the University of Tokyo, told ABC News after the economy and industry ministry made its recommendation.

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