China urges Japan not to release nuclear-contaminated water into sea

An aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on March 17, 2022. [Reuters]

China strongly urges Japan to cancel the plan to release nuclear-contaminated water into the sea and dispose of it responsibly, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday in Beijing.

Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a news briefing that in disregard of the strong concerns and firm opposition from the international community, the Japanese government announced the decision to start releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean from August 24.

"This is extremely selfish and irresponsible, as the discharge will spread the risks of nuclear contamination to the rest of the world, and by doing so, Japan is putting its selfish interests above the long-term wellbeing of the entire humanity. China is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this. We have made serious demarches to Japan," said Wang.

For the past two years and more, the legitimacy, legality and safety of Japan's ocean discharge plan has been questioned over and over again by the international community. Japan has yet to address major international concerns such as the long-term reliability of the purification facility, the authenticity and accuracy of the nuclear-contaminated water data, and the effectiveness of the monitoring arrangement, he said.

China and other stakeholders have pointed out on multiple occasions that if the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is truly safe, Japan wouldn't have to dump it into the sea and certainly shouldn't if it's not, said Wang, adding that it is unjustified, unreasonable and unnecessary for Japan to push through the ocean discharge plan.

Regrettably, Japan has given scarce response to international concerns. It has been trying to create an impression that the ocean discharge is safe and harmless. It has even made unfounded accusations against neighboring countries who have expressed legitimate concerns. All of this has caused outrage among people in neighboring countries and in Japan, said Wang.

"The ocean sustains humanity. It is not a sewer for Japan's nuclear-contaminated water," said Wang.

China strongly urges Japan to stop its wrongdoing, cancel the ocean discharge plan, communicate with neighboring countries with sincerity and good will, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a responsible manner and accept rigorous international oversight. China will take all steps necessary to protect the marine environment, ensure food safety and safeguard people's life and health, he said.

According to the Foreign Ministry's website, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japanese ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi on Tuesday to make solemn representations over the Japanese government's announcement that it will start discharging contaminated water on August 24.

Sun pointed out that the Japanese government ignored the strong doubts and objections of the international community and announced to start the discharge of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water.

"Such an act blatantly transfers the risk of nuclear pollution to neighboring countries, including China, and the international community, and puts one's interests above the long-term well-being of people in the region and globally. It is extremely selfish and irresponsible. China expresses grave concern and strong opposition to it," Sun said.

Sun said the Fukushima nuclear accident is one of the world's most serious nuclear accidents to date, resulting in the release of a large amount of radioactive material, which has far-reaching implications for the marine environment, food safety, and human health.

"The ocean is the blue home that all humanity depends on for survival, and the Japanese side should not dump nuclear-contaminated water at will," he added.

China strongly urged the Japanese side to revoke its wrong decision, stop pushing ahead with the nuclear-contaminated water discharge plan, communicate with its neighbors with sincerity and goodwill, and handle the matter responsibly, Sun said, adding that if Japan goes its way, the Chinese government will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard the marine environment, food safety, and public health.

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