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Japan releases contaminated water into the Pacific. The Prime Minister calms down, China protests

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What to do when the public is afraid to eat local fish? You need to show that they are safe and eat them yourself, preferably in front of the cameras. This is what the Japanese Prime Minister and three ministers did. Where did this move come from? Authorities in Tokyo want to show that seafood from Japanese waters is safe. It is not only the Japanese society that remains distrustful after Japan started dumping radioactive water into the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where a terrible disaster took place 12 years ago.

First Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, then the United States ambassador to Japan – both of them ate raw seafood caught from the waters around Fukushima in front of the cameras. They both said it was perfectly safe. A moment earlier, the government in Tokyo and the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that no irregularities had been detected in tests of water from the Pacific Ocean. Samples were taken from 11 points near the nuclear power plant after a slow discharge of radioactive water from the plant damaged years ago began on Thursday. “Our independent research has shown that the concentration of the radioactive isotope tritium is below the lower detection limit, which should actually convince everyone,” said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Despite the research, despite the data and the preceding translations, China decided to ban the import of fish from Japan. They claim that what the authorities in Tokyo are doing is selfish and irresponsible. – I would like to emphasize that the Japanese government unilaterally and forcefully initiated the discharge of contaminated water resulting from the nuclear accident in Fukushima, despite the serious doubts and objections of the international community – emphasizes Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. – China’s import restrictions have no scientific basis. We will do a lot to abolish them – replies the Japanese prime minister.

South Korea tests, Hong Kong introduces precautions

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The South Korean authorities have not decided on an embargo, but they want to calm public opinion. To this end, they have begun inspections of Japanese seafood. Inspections in stores and wholesalers will last 100 days. – We lost all our customers as a result of the pandemic. When the pandemic situation improved, business started again, but now we feel uncertain again. The lack of customers will be a big problem, says one of the seafood sellers from South Korea.

In Hong Kong, customers will not buy Japanese fish from 10 prefectures – it’s a precaution. In stores, the place of catch is now clearly marked. Most come from the seas around Argentina, Canada and even Norway. – Japan’s decision is based on scientific research, personally I would not worry about issues such as eating raw fish – says Billy Tse, a customer of a sushi restaurant from Hong Kong. – I think it’s more of a collective panic, fear of the unknown. Water discharge is already a fact and we have to accept it, adds Steven Zhou, a resident of Hong Kong.

It will take at least 30 years to dump Fukushima’s radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. In the first round, over 17 days, the ocean will receive as much water as about three Olympic swimming pools. – Japan will continue to take all possible steps to ensure security. With the continued commitment of the International Atomic Energy Agency, we will ensure that there will never be a discharge of water that could affect human health or the environment, says Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

A total of over one million tons of contaminated water is expected to be sent to the Pacific. It cannot be purified from tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It is stored in tanks that are already 98 percent full. Emptying them is necessary to continue work on eliminating the effects of the 2011 disaster. Then, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, the reactor cores melted. Radioactive substances have been released into the environment.

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Main photo source: PAP/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

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