Korea calls for IAEA role in Japan dumping of radioactive water
‘Field inspection needed on nuclear accident site in Japan’
The government is moving to step up its campaign to oppose Japan’s plans to dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean by seeking the support of the global nuclear energy authority.
This comes amid lingering uncertainty over Tokyo’s handling of 1.15 million tons of water contaminated after the catastrophic meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
Japan has yet to confirm how it will dispose of the radioactive water, and is still considering releasing it into the Pacific. South Korea as its closest neighbor has in recent months expressed deep regret over such a plan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would continue to look for support from international environment agencies to block Tokyo from dumping the water into the ocean.
“The foreign ministry and other relevant government authorities continue reviewing measures to stop Tokyo from conducting such an environmentally-unfriendly action,” a ministry official said Tuesday.
“The IAEA is one of the most senior international organizations in handling the issue. But we plan to team up with environment-related organizations to get an international consensus against Japan’s move,” the official said. “For instance, Greenpeace is also standing at the forefront to oppose the plan by taking issue with the matter on the international stage.”
On Monday, First Vice Science and ICT Minister Moon Mi-ok expressed concern over the plan at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna, Austria.
She urged the agency to conduct an inspection of the site of the nuclear accident, while calling on Japan to adopt transparent and practical actions to guarantee the safety of the environment.
Experts said South Korea should not react emotionally to political rhetoric from Japan in order to garner sympathy from international society.
“The remarks by the South Korean official at the IAEA meeting can be seen as part of political pressure against Japan at a time when both countries have been engaged in a months-long trade feud triggered by historical disputes,” Park Won-gon, a professor of international politics at Handong Global University, said.
“If Seoul continues intensifying such an international campaign, the chances are that Japan’s national sentiment regarding South Korea will get worse,” he said. The continuous conflicts with Japan do no good for both countries amid their worsening bilateral relations, according to the professor.
To intensify the level of pressure against Japan, he recommended seeking alliances with other countries to protest the disposal plan for the contaminated water.
A group of activities stage a protest against Japan’s plan to dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean in front of the former Japanese embassy in Seoul, on Aug. 16.