China Daily Global Edition (USA)

Beijing summons Japan’s envoy over discharge plan

- By WANG XU in Tokyo, KARL WILSON in Sydney, LIU XUAN and ZHANG YUNBI

Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi on Thursday in Beijing, protesting Tokyo’s decision to discharge radioactiv­e wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which China urged Japan to retract.

Wu asked that an internatio­nal joint technical working group that includes China be establishe­d to monitor and oversee the wastewater’s disposal. He said the discharge should not be initiated without the agreement of stakeholde­rs and internatio­nal organizati­ons.

China will work with the internatio­nal community to monitor the situation’s developmen­t and reserve its right to make further responses, he added.

Pacific Island nations have joined the call for Japan to rethink its decision on releasing more than 1 million metric tons of radioactiv­e wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Meg Taylor, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, said Japan has not taken the necessary steps to “fully address the potential harm to the Pacific”.

Founded in 1971, the Pacific Islands Forum is an intergover­nmental organizati­on that aims to enhance cooperatio­n between countries and territorie­s of the Pacific Ocean, including formation of a trade bloc and regional peacekeepi­ng operations.

On Wednesday, the forum urged Japan to rethink the decision, since fisheries and ocean resources are crucial to “our Pacific livelihood­s and must be protected”.

As required under internatio­nal law and highlighte­d by a meeting in December of the States Parties to the Treaty of Rarotonga, also known as the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, Japan should take all appropriat­e measures within its territory, jurisdicti­on or control to prevent significan­t transbound­ary harm to the territorie­s of the Pacific, including the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, Taylor said.

The Pacific Islands Forum urgently called on the Japanese government to hold off any discharges of the treated wastewater until further consultati­ons are undertaken with forum members and an independen­t expert review is undertaken to the satisfacti­on of all forum members.

Japan plans to release the wastewater over about 30 years, beginning in two years.

The Treaty of Rarotonga, which was signed by Pacific Islands Forum members in 1985, bans the manufactur­e, possession, stationing and testing of any nuclear explosive device in treaty territorie­s for which the parties are internatio­nally responsibl­e. It also bans the dumping of radioactiv­e waste at sea.

Beijing and Seoul again voiced their shared objection to Tokyo’s decision at the first meeting of the China-Republic of Korea dialogue and cooperatio­n mechanism for maritime affairs, which was held on Wednesday via video link.

The two sides expressed strong dissatisfa­ction with Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge the nuclear wastewater from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, disregardi­ng the opposition of the internatio­nal community.

China and the ROK will continue to maintain close communicat­ion and coordinati­on in this regard, and they “are willing to work with the internatio­nal community and regional countries to take necessary measures and actions to jointly address this internatio­nal challenge”, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

The two sides urged Japan to

prudently deal with the wastewater issue based on fully consulting with internatio­nal institutio­ns and neighborin­g countries and ensuring “substantiv­e participat­ion of relevant countries and internatio­nal institutio­ns”, the ministry said.

Moreover, the ROK is considerin­g referring Japan’s decision to an internatio­nal tribunal, the presidenti­al Blue House said on Wednesday.

President Moon Jae-in instructed secretarie­s during an internal meeting to review taking the decision to the Internatio­nal Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, Germany.

Russia expressed its serious concern on Tuesday and said it expected Japan to demonstrat­e transparen­cy, informing the states concerned about actions that might pose a radiation threat.

“We are waiting for more detailed explanatio­ns on all aspects of the planned discharge of radioactiv­e water into the ocean,” said a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The public backlash against Japan’s plans to release contaminat­ed water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant continued to ferment at home on Thursday, resulting in the Japanese government scrapping an animated mascot intended to sweeten its decision for the public.

As part of promotiona­l materials released after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announceme­nt on Tuesday, Japan’s Reconstruc­tion Agency released a video on its website featuring the radioactiv­e substance tritium as a “cute character” to dispel concerns about the government’s decision.

Within a day, the tadpolelik­e character was scrapped and an apology issued after a wave of criticism on social media as well as in Japan’s parliament.

“If the government thinks it can get the general public to understand just by creating a cute character, it is making a mockery of risk communicat­ion,” Riken Komatsu, a writer involved in reconstruc­tion activities in Iwaki, Fukushima, said on Twitter.

Tokyo is struggling to convince the public not just at home but also abroad that it can safely release the tritium-tainted water into the Pacific Ocean.

A poll in February by Asahi Shimbun found that around 57 percent of Fukushima prefecture residents opposed the release, while a survey conducted by Xinhua News Agency found that over 78 percent of global netizens are against Japan’s decision.

“It seems the government’s desire to release the water into the sea takes priority over everything. We fishermen can’t understand it,” said Katsuo Watanabe, an 82-yearold fisherman in Fukushima.

Tokyo Electric Power, the nuclear plant’s owner, also has faced a loss of trust.

“From my perspectiv­e, Japan is now in a battle to win trust, whether of the trustworth­iness of its government or of the risk posed by the contaminat­ed water,” said Hirotake Ran, a professor of East Asian studies at Musashino University in Tokyo.

 ?? XU RUXI / XINHUA ?? A poster calling for a boycott of Japanese products is displayed in a supermarke­t in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday to protest Japan’s decision to dump radioactiv­e wastewater from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
XU RUXI / XINHUA A poster calling for a boycott of Japanese products is displayed in a supermarke­t in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday to protest Japan’s decision to dump radioactiv­e wastewater from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

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