Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has urged China to restrain its citizens from engaging in anti-Japanese acts, such as throwing stones and making prank calls at Japanese diplomatic facilities and schools, in reaction to Japan’s decision to dump treated radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.
Kishida said he summoned China’s ambassador, Wu Jianghao, on Monday and requested him to appeal to Chinese people to behave calmly and rationally1. He said Japan’s plan was based on scientific and transparent criteria and had been supported by many countries and international organizations2.
Japan started releasing the treated wastewater on Thursday, after years of discussion and controversy. The water has been stored in about 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which suffered a meltdown after a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Japan says the water has been filtered to remove most of the radioactive substances, except for tritium, which is considered harmless in small doses.
However, the move has triggered strong opposition from local fishing groups, who worry it will harm the reputation of their products, and from neighboring countries, especially China and South Korea, who accuse Japan of endangering the marine environment and human health.
China announced an immediate ban on all imports of Japanese seafood on Friday, while South Korea held protests and filed a complaint with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea3. Both countries have also expressed their dissatisfaction through diplomatic channels.
According to Japanese media reports, some Chinese citizens have vented their anger on the streets, hurling stones and making prank calls at Japanese embassy and consulates and Japanese schools in China. Some have also posted online messages threatening or insulting Japan and its people.
Kishida said such acts were lamentable and unacceptable, and urged China to take appropriate measures to prevent them. He also pledged to protect Japan’s fisheries industry from the impact of China’s import ban and said he would announce support measures later this week4.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory on Sunday, warning Japanese citizens to be careful in China, citing an escalation of harassment and violent protests5. It advised them not to talk loudly in Japanese to avoid attention.
The article concludes by stating that Japan’s release plan has faced fierce opposition from Japanese fishing groups as well as from China and South Korea6. It also states that Japan’s government and the plant operator say the release is necessary for the plant’s cleanup and decommissioning, which are also expected to take decades. It also states that all seawater and fish sampling data since the release have been way below set safety limits7.