Japan Must Use Scientific Evidence to Refute Disinformation

It is unacceptable to attempt to discredit Japan with scientifically unsound claims and disinformation over the issue of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. The government should firmly refute such moves.

TEPCO has completed construction of facilities for the discharge of treated water from the power plant. The plan is to release the treated water, after diluting it with seawater, through an undersea tunnel constructed about 1 kilometer offshore from the plant, over a period of about 30 years.

The inspection of the facilities by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has been completed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has carried out investigations at Japan’s request, has assessed the release method and facilities as appropriate in six previous reports. The final report is scheduled to be released soon.

If domestic and international organizations give their endorsement, the conditions for offshore discharge will be complete.

The amount of treated water in storage has now exceeded 1.3 million tons, and more than 1,000 tanks at the plant are expected to be full by the first half of next year. The government and TEPCO must steadily implement the plan, while gaining the understanding of the international community.

The treated water is the water contaminated by the nuclear accident that has been purified to remove most radioactive materials other than tritium, which is found in the natural environment.

Discharging wastewater containing tritium generated at nuclear facilities into the ocean is not an extraordinary procedure, as it is done regularly not only in Japan but also in nations including European countries, the United States, China and South Korea.

Nevertheless, China’s government has criticized the planned discharge, saying that the Pacific Ocean is not a sewer for Japan to release nuclear-contaminated water. The Beijing-controlled media continues to wage a campaign opposing the discharge.

The IAEA inspection team included experts from both China and South Korea. It makes no sense for China to criticize the plan that the IAEA team found to be appropriate.

The South Korean government has taken a stance of emphasizing scientific findings, dispatching its own on-site survey team in May.

In June, however, liberal online media in South Korea reported that Japan donated more than €1 million to the IAEA, claiming that the agency’s conclusions in its reports were fixed from the beginning.

Disseminating information as if Japan had bribed the IAEA cannot be tolerated. It is only natural that the Japanese government denied the report, saying that it had no basis in fact. The government needs to monitor disinformation and take timely action against such false statements.

Local fisheries organizations oppose the discharge of treated water. They are likely concerned that people will become reluctant to buy their marine products. The government and TEPCO must take all possible measures against damaging rumors so that local fishermen do not fall into hardship.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 2, 2023)