Japan announced this week that it would be releasing 1.25 million tons of treated wastewater that has been contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific.
The move was met with opposition from the neighboring countries, China and South Korea, who saw the move as likely to jeopardize the safety of the ocean water.
Drink the water if it is safe
On its part, South Korea expressed strong regret for the decision to dump the wastewater that had tritium and trace amounts of other radionuclides in the water. They summoned Japanese Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi, according to officials privy to the meeting and expressed their regrets while also lodging their protest during the meeting.
However, it is the Chinese government that has taken stern action against Japan, with the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry challenging Japan’s deputy prime minister to drink the treated water to prove that it will be safe for everyone else. The escalation came after Japanese officials suggested the water being released in the Pacific would be safe to consume.
In a news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian echoed that a Japanese official had said the water was safe to drink and challenged the official to drink. Zhao added that the ocean was not Japan’s trash can, tweeting a similar message in English after he was done with the news briefing.
Ocean is not Japan's trash can; and #PacificOcean is not Japan's sewer. It should not expect the world to pay the bill for its treatment of wastewater. #Japanese official said the water is "OK to drink", why doesn't him take a sip first? They should not pretend to be ignorant.— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) April 14, 2021
The decision to dump the water into the ocean was made after Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as Tepco, indicated that it had run out of storage space for the water at the site.
The decision also created a diplomatic push and pull between the US and China due to the US support of Japan’s decision to dump over one million tons of treated water into the ocean. China expressed concerns over the US support, pointing fingers at the US for failing to protect the environment.
However, observers also noted that China was hypocritical over its criticism of Japan, having also released large amounts of tritium water into the sea from their local power plants such as Daya Bay. However, Zhao indicated that the two situations were not similar and that China’s water waste, going as far as to say that no comparison can be drawn between the two without expanding on what he means.