Japanese citizens protest outside the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo in April 2021, when Japan decided to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown into the ocean. (AP/Yonhap)
A new poll finds that fewer than half of Japan support Tokyo’s upcoming plan to release radioactive water from storage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Distrust remains high despite the Japanese government’s major campaign over the past two years to promote the safety of the treated water it intends to release into the ocean.
The Japan News Network reported Monday that 45% of 1,207 respondents in a telephone poll over the weekend were in favor of discharging the water into the ocean, 5 points higher than those opposed (40%).
While supporters of the planned discharge outnumbered opponents, they still make up fewer than half of the Japanese surveyed in the poll, carried out on the eve of the water’s release. That’s certain to put more pressure on the Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Admittedly, results of polls about the discharge vary with the polling organization. In a March poll by the Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun, approval (51%) outweighed opposition (41%) by 10 points.
A poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun in May showed approval at 60%, double opposition (30%).
Preparatory procedures for releasing the water are in their final stages. With the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority’s inspection of the facilities complete, TEPCO will be given the green light within a week.
Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Kishida in Tokyo on Tuesday, when he is slated to deliver his agency’s final report on the safety of the release of the Fukushima water.
Once these two procedures are complete, Kishida can decide when to release the water at his discretion.
Starting this summer, the Japanese government plans to release around 1.32 metric million tons of water used to cool the damaged Fukushima reactors over the course of the next 30 years after diluting the concentration of radioactivity to below the legal threshold.
In particular, it will dilute the concentration of tritium, which cannot be eradicated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to one-fortieth of the legal threshold before discharging it into the ocean.
By Kim So-youn, Tokyo correspondent
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