S. Korea raises “serious concerns” over planned ocean release of Fukushima water

Posted on : 2021-04-13 16:28 KST Modified on : 2021-04-13 17:12 KST
Japan is to dump contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in two years

The South Korean government expressed “serious concerns” ahead of the Japanese government’s announcement of plans to discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean.

In a statement credited to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesperson on Monday, the South Korean government said, “Regarding reports that the Japanese government plans to finalize its basic plan for the ocean release of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant at an April 13 meeting of Cabinet ministers related to the Fukushima contaminated water issue, the [South Korean] government expresses its serious concerns that this decision might, directly and indirectly, affect the safety of the South Korean public and the surrounding environment.”

The statement went on to note that the South Korean government had “repeatedly communicated to Japan about the importance of making a decision based on the transparent sharing of information and discussions with neighboring countries.”

“It would be unacceptable for Japan to decide to proceed with the ocean release of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant without adequate discussions,” it added.

The statement also said the South Korean government planned to “greatly expand [its] radioactivity measurements and strengthen monitoring, viewing the protection of the South Korean public’s health and the surrounding environment as our paramount principle.”

It further added that the South Korean government plans to continue observing developments with Japan’s decision on the water release issue and the associated procedures while pursuing an ongoing response based on closer cooperation with the international community and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

As part of its response, the government plans to send a South Korean expert to take part in an IAEA expert group to participate directly in the process of testing treated water from Fukushima.

The Japanese government Tuesday held a meeting of related Cabinet ministers meeting and decided to discharge radioactively contaminated water currently being stored in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site into the sea, Japanese news outlets reported.

Analysts suggested that despite objections from the political opposition and others, now would be the only time when a decision could be made on the contaminated water treatment issue, given the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the House of Representatives election scheduled for the fall.

The Japanese government had reportedly been preparing to announce the decision to release the water late last year before finally postponing the announcement amid a rapid spread of COVID-19 cases and plummeting support ratings for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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