China on Friday condemned a Japanese plan to release treated radioactive wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, demanding that Tokyo first receive approval from neighboring countries.
China has regularly filed similar complaints in the past but hasn’t said how it would respond if Japan goes ahead with the planned release.
China, which Japan overran in the first half of the last century, has been a constant critic of Tokyo and its security alliance with the United States, with the ruling Communist Party often pleading historic wrongs to reap the domestic support and try to undermine Japan’s global position.
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Japan’s behavior is “extremely irresponsible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said at a daily briefing on Friday.
“I would like to emphasize that Japan’s release of nuclear-contaminated treated water from the Fukushima plant affects the global marine environment and public health, which is not a private matter for the Japanese side,” Mao said.
“Until full consultation and agreement is reached with neighboring countries and other relevant relevant international parties and institutions, the Japanese side will not initiate the dumping of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without authorization,” he said.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant 12 years ago on March 11, 2011, destroying its power and cooling systems and triggering a meltdown of three reactors. Large amounts of radiation were released into the surrounding area.
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South Korea, several Pacific Island nations and Japanese fishing communities also opposed the planned release.
Japanese officials and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, say the radioactive elements in the water can be reduced to safe levels.
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Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tetsuro Nomura said he would work to counter any damage from the release to the reputation of the area’s fishing industry.
“We will convey the safety of fish caught in the Japanese sea with scientific evidence,” Nomura told Japan’s Kyodo News newspaper.