"The ocean is our workplace, and no one has the right to pollute it," said Haruo Ono, a fisherman from Fukushima prefecture.
The 70-year-old who works at a small port in Shinchi town, made the remarks at the 2023 World Conference against A and H Bombs on Sunday in Fukushima city organized by citizen groups including Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, or Gensuikyo.
"Once the ocean is contaminated, it would be impossible to clean it up," Ono expressed his worries, advocating for the contaminated water to be "securely stored in tanks instead."
From the Fukushima-Daiichi triple-reactor meltdown wreckage, Japan’s government and “Tepco,” the owner, are rushing plans to pump 1.37 million tons of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific.
It is unacceptable to allow further radioactive contamination into the environment, and the hasty discharge of nuclear-contaminated wastewater displays a lack of responsibility, said Yasunari Fujimoto, co-speaker at the meeting, which saw approximately 550 participants.
Also seen at the meeting were over 20 lawmakers from South Korea and local citizens in Fukushima city, holding banners that read such as "Japanese government must immediately stop discharging nuclear-polluted water into the sea."
Japan's Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura visited fisheries cooperative associations in Fukushima cities of Soma and Iwaki on Sunday to seek understanding from local fishermen of the government's plan to start the water release around this summer.
Toshimitsu Konno, head of Fukushima prefecture's Soma Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, said after the meeting that the government's explanations were still not able to gain the understanding of local fishermen.
Those who work in the fishing industry voiced concerns about the future as the water release will continue until the decommissioning of the nuclear plant, intimidated by the potential impact on their livelihoods once the discharge begins.
South Korean fishermen staged a maritime rally in the southern coastal county of Boseong on Wednesday to protest against Japan's planned release of nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. #GLOBALinkpic.twitter.com/qZVkZnU543
"I was shocked when people around me say that 'we won't let our children eat fish if the contaminated water is released into the ocean,'" said Koe Shoji, a local fisherman's wife.
Prior to his trip to Fukushima, Nishimura visited the neighboring prefecture of Miyagi on Saturday to meet with local fishery operators.
"Our stance of opposing the water release plan has not changed," Haruhiko Terasawa, head of the Miyagi prefectural fisheries cooperative association, told the reporters.
Some countries and regions opposing the discharge have strengthened their inspection of Japanese seafood for radioactive substances, resulting in lower prices and stalled distribution of Japanese seafood, Terasawa said, urging Japan to "remedy the current situation as the first step" as actual damages caused could escalate further if the discharge proceeds.
Miyagi and Fukushima are two of Japan's three northeastern prefectures worst hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
#SouthKorea | People protest against Japan's decision to dump radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. pic.twitter.com/0tOAa1wzNz