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News > Japan

Japan Announces Wastewater Discharge From Fukushima Nuclear PP

  • The international community has questioned the legitimacy and safety of Japan's ocean dumping plan. Aug. 22, 2023.

    The international community has questioned the legitimacy and safety of Japan's ocean dumping plan. Aug. 22, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@RSSNEWSUPDATE

Published 22 August 2023

Hundreds of people rallied in front of the Japanese prime minister's official residence to protest the government's controversial decision. 

Despite public concern and opposition, the Japanese government on Tuesday announced the decision to begin discharging wastewater contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean on Thursday.


Fijian Organizations Oppose Japan's Wastewater Discharge Plan

"We will ask TEPCO (plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company) to promptly prepare for the start of ocean dumping based on the plan approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, with dumping scheduled for Aug. 24 if weather and sea conditions do not prevent it," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. 

TEPCO said it began transferring the first batch of treated water from storage tanks to a facility to mix it with seawater and dilute it shortly after 10:30 a.m. local time Tuesday.

In one of the worst atomic disasters in history, the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant was knocked out of service in March 2011 by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. This triggered a level 7 nuclear accident, the highest on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which killed some 18,000 people.

Since then, TEPCO has collected 1.34 million tons of water used to cool what remains of the still highly radioactive reactors, mixed with leaked groundwater and rain. The operator says the water has been diluted and filtered to remove all radioactive substances except tritium, whose levels are well below dangerous levels. The discharge is expected to continue for more than 30 years, according to TEPCO.

The nuclear-contaminated wastewater will be discharged into the ocean at a maximum rate of 500,000 liters per day off the northeast coast of Japan. Following the ministerial meeting on Tuesday morning, hundreds of people rallied outside the official residence of the Japanese prime minister to protest the government's controversial decision. 

Hideki Taki, one of the organizers of the rally, expressed extreme outrage over the government's unilateral move to go ahead with the discharge. "No matter how the wastewater is 'treated,' its contaminated nuclear nature remains unchanged. All the Japanese government wants is to create a fait accompli by dumping into the ocean," Hideki stated. 

At Tuesday's meeting, the prime minister said the government will take full responsibility for the decision. Kishida "lacks the qualifications, authority and right to take such responsibility," said Yoshiko Furukawa, who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and was forced into a long-term evacuation due to the nuclear accident.

For his part, Masanobu Sakamoto, head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, also expressed his opposition and concern. "Nothing will change in our opposition to the release of water into the ocean without the understanding of fishermen and the public," Sakamoto said. 

In 2015, the Japanese government and TEPCO reached an agreement with fishing cooperative associations in both Fukushima Prefecture and the nation that they would not proceed with any wastewater discharge "without the understanding of the relevant parties."

According to the head of the Social Democratic Party, Mizuho Fukushima, the decision to proceed with the ocean dumping despite widespread opposition amounted to a "reckless act" by the government, trampling on the concerns of the majority.

The international community has also questioned the legitimacy and safety of Japan's ocean dumping plan. Many South Koreans are alarmed at the prospect of the spill and have organized demonstrations. China has accused Japan of treating the ocean as a "sewer," banning food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures and imposing strict radiation controls. Hong Kong, a major market for Japanese seafood exports, has also threatened restrictions.



Fumio Kishida
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