Jeju governor threatens to sue Japan if it releases radioactive water into Pacific

Posted on : 2020-10-21 17:13 KST Modified on : 2020-10-21 17:13 KST
Measures include filing civil suits and criminal complaints in Korean, Japanese courts and international tribunals
Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong speaks during a forum in Seoul on Oct. 15. (Yonhap News)
Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong speaks during a forum in Seoul on Oct. 15. (Yonhap News)

Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong clarified on Oct. 20 that he will take stern measures if the Japanese government releases contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, including filing civil lawsuits and criminal complaints.

“If the Japanese government pushes ahead with releasing contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean, Jeju Island will take the lead in filing lawsuits in both the South Korean and Japanese courts and at international tribunals. Jeju Island and the Republic of Korea will not tolerate a single drop of contaminated water from Fukushima,” Won said during a press conference at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“The contaminated water wouldn’t only be flowing into Japanese waters,” Won also said. “Both Jeju Island and all countries that are adjacent to the Pacific Ocean would be affected. A maritime research institute in Germany estimates that the contaminated water from Fukushima would reach Jeju within 200 days and would reach the waters off the East Sea within 80 more days.”

While the Japanese government claims that releasing the contaminated water at a reduced density wouldn’t pose a problem, Won countered by citing expert testimony about the danger of doing so. “I have a duty as the governor of Jeju Island to protect the safety of the Korean people and our territorial waters. By protecting the waters off Jeju Island, I am also protecting the lives, safety, and ecosystems of the people in all countries connected to those waters,” the governor said.

Won also brought up a single mother who recently put her baby up for adoption on an app-based marketplace for secondhand goods. What the mother needs is not criticism, Won said, but protection from society.

“The mother visited the gynecologist because of stomach pains and immediately delivered the baby. Since she hadn’t realized she was pregnant, she wasn’t emotionally prepared for pregnancy and childbirth,” Won told reporters after the press conference. “She [posted the ad] in a state of great confusion and uncertainty with the idea that she could handle the adoption herself rather than going through the administrative procedures.”

“Media reports have triggered a flood of social criticism that has caused the mother to isolate herself from society. The central government needs to carry out major reform of the systems that are already in place to make them easier to use,” Won said.

By Noh Hyun-woong, staff reporter

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