Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has taken a bold step to reassure the public about the safety of treated radioactive wastewater released from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In a symbolic gesture, Kishida and three of his cabinet ministers sat down for a lunch on Wednesday, where they consumed sashimi made from flounder, octopus, and sea bass caught off the coast of Fukushima after last week’s wastewater release. They also enjoyed a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and rice.
During the meal, Kishida expressed his satisfaction with the food, stating, “This is very good.” He called on people to enjoy “safe and delicious” Japanese seafood and lend their support to the northeastern prefecture. The prime minister’s intention behind this publicity stunt was to dispel concerns and instill confidence in the safety of the treated wastewater.
The release of the treated wastewater from the Fukushima power plant, however, has sparked tensions with neighboring countries. China, South Korea, and North Korea have expressed their objections, with Beijing imposing a complete ban on all Japanese seafood products. The Chinese officials argue that Japan has failed to provide sufficient evidence of the water’s safety and have criticized Tokyo for its perceived selfishness and irresponsibility.
In response to China’s ban, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau have also prohibited the import of Japanese products from 10 prefectures. South Korea, which already had existing restrictions on Japanese seafood imports, has decided to maintain its measures. North Korea has gone to the extent of accusing Japan of committing an “unforgivable crime against humanity,” viewing the release of wastewater as a threat to the safety and future of humankind.
Nevertheless, Tokyo has stood firm in its assertion that the discharged water is safe. The United Nations approved Japan’s plan, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the amount of tritium in the wastewater was well below the operational limit. The IAEA further reassured that the effect of the water’s release into the ocean would have a “negligible” impact on both people and the environment.
Adding weight to Japan’s argument, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, published test results confirming that the water contained only up to 63 becquerels of tritium per liter. This value is significantly lower than the World Health Organization’s drinking water limit of 10,000 becquerels per liter.
The Fukushima Daiichi power plant suffered severe damage in 2011 due to the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The resulting catastrophic meltdown made it the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl incident in 1986.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s act of consuming fish sashimi from Fukushima aims to dispel concerns regarding the safety of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima power plant. Despite objections from neighboring countries, Japan maintains that the water is safe, with backing from the United Nations and the IAEA. The release of the treated wastewater marks a significant step in the ongoing recovery and reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.