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Japan to release Fukushima water as soon as this month, reports say

Japan to release Fukushima water as soon as this month, reports say
Storage tanks for contaminated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, 9 December 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE/KIMIMASA MAYAMA)

The Japanese government is preparing to start releasing treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site into the sea as early as late August, local newspapers including the Yomiuri Shimbun reported. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with cabinet members and decide on a specific timing to discharge the water after returning from a trilateral summit with the US and South Korea on 18 August, Yomiuri reported, citing unidentified officials. He will meet with representatives from the nation’s fisheries association ahead of the release, Asahi Shimbun reported

No specific timing for the water release has been decided by the government at this time, Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary, said in a press conference on Monday. The government will decide after measures to ensure safety and limit reputational damage are put in place, he said.

Japan recently cleared major hurdles to release water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. The International Atomic Energy Agency released a comprehensive review last month, saying the move “would have negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.” Japan’s atomic watchdog also gave approval for using the discharge facility operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. 

Read More: Why Japan Will Release Fukushima Water Into the Sea: QuickTake

The plan has led to friction with China, which has criticised Japan over safety concerns. The Hong Kong government has said it will ban imports of seafood and other related products from several regions in Japan if the treated water is released. 

South Korea, whose relationship with Japan has improved recently under President Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration, has backed the plan, but has asked to be involved in monitoring the operation. 

The Japanese government wants to avoid starting the procedure in September, when bottom trawling fishing begins on the coast of Fukushima prefecture, the Yomiuri reported. 

A poll conducted by Japanese broadcaster JNN over the weekend found that 50% of those surveyed were in favour of plans to release the treated water from the disaster site, while 35% were against. DM

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