September 21, 2023 9:04 pm

Outrage in South Korea as Japan’s radioactive proposals spark intense backlash

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Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Seoul on Saturday to voice their opposition against Japan’s plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean. Despite objections from neighboring countries and concerns about potential environmental consequences, Tokyo intends to proceed with the plan by the end of August, according to local media reports.

Activists in South Korea convened in the capital city to criticize Japan’s decision, with some demonstrators even denouncing the use of nuclear energy altogether. Protesters brandished signs that read “Nuclear Power? No Thanks!” and “Keep It Inland” or “Protect the Pacific Ocean.” Choi Kyoungsook, an activist from Korea Radiation Watch, the group that organized the protest, expressed concerns about the impact of the contaminated water on the marine ecosystem, asserting that the sea is a shared resource for all of humanity.

Last month, Japan’s nuclear regulator approved the controversial plan devised by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima plant, to gradually release the accumulated wastewater into the ocean. The Fukushima plant continues to generate around 100 cubic meters of wastewater daily, and the storage space for such enormous volumes is dwindling.

Japanese officials have repeatedly maintained that the water has been treated to adhere to international safety standards. The plan has received support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog. Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the IAEA, recently asserted that the wastewater is safe enough for drinking and swimming. However, China, Japan’s immediate neighbor, has been highly critical of the plan and the IAEA’s endorsement. Beijing suggested that if the water is truly as safe as claimed, Japan should store it domestically instead of releasing it into the sea and causing international concerns.

Wang Wenbin, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated, “If some people think that the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima is safe to drink or swim in, we suggest that Japan save the nuclear-contaminated water for these people to drink or swim in instead of releasing it into the sea and causing widespread concerns internationally.”

The Fukushima power plant suffered severe damage following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 9.0, and the subsequent devastating tsunami. The plant experienced a catastrophic meltdown, making it the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl incident.

The South Korean protests reflect the growing international apprehension surrounding Japan’s plan to discharge treated radioactive water into the ocean. Critics argue that the potential environmental and health risks associated with such a decision should be thoroughly evaluated and alternative solutions explored before proceeding with the discharge. As the issue continues to receive global attention, pressure is mounting on Japan to reevaluate its strategy and address the concerns and objections of neighboring countries and the international community.

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Original Source: Outrage in South Korea as Japan’s radioactive proposals spark intense backlash

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