Apr 16, 2021 10:55 UTC
  • China summons Japan ambassador over plan to dump radioactive water in sea

China has summoned Japan's ambassador, Hideo Tarumi, to protest Tokyo's plan to dump more than one million tonnes of radioactive water waste from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, stressing that China has lodged "solemn representations" over Tokyo's move.

UN human rights experts have also expressed deep concern over Japan’s decision.

In a joint statement, three Special Rapporteurs on human rights Marcos Orellana, Michael Fakhri and David Boyd said that the release of contaminated water into the ocean “imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan”.

“We remind Japan of its international obligations to prevent exposure to hazardous substances, to conduct environmental impact assessments of the risks that the discharge of water may have, to prevent transboundary environmental harms, and to protect the marine environment,” they said.

Given the warnings and criticism from some governments such as South Korea and China, the experts called the Japanese government’s decision “very concerning”.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian challenged Japan’s deputy prime minister to drink the treated water, following the Japanese official's suggestion that the water released would be safe to consume.

“A Japanese official said it’s okay if you drink this water”, then please drink it,” Zhao Lijian said at a news briefing, stressing that “the ocean is not Japan's trash can”.

Lijian also asserted that US support for Japan's move “doesn't mean endorsement by the international community”.

“If the US values environmental protection, it should shoulder its responsibility rather than adopt double standards.”

The Japanese government has stated that the water would be treated further to remove dangerous isotopes, although it would not be able to remove tritium.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen which organically binds to other molecules in the water, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans.

Scientists say tritium in the water can quickly pass through the body and its radioactive hazards are so intense that it could pose risks to humans and the environment for more than 100 years.

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