Japan PM Urges China to Engage in Expert Discussions Based on Science over Fukushima Water Release

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, shakes hands with Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reiterated calls for China to engage in expert discussions on the ocean release of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which Beijing has criticized.

The government intends to persistently urge China to withdraw its blanket ban on imports of Japanese marine products by providing explanations based on scientific evidence.

At a Liberal Democratic Party board meeting on Tuesday, Kishida said he wanted the Chinese government to immediately lift the import ban and vowed to “continue strongly calling for thorough expert discussions.”

China has ignored repeated attempts by the Japanese government to provide data-based explanations about the discharge.

“We are at the stage where we are considering some form of countermeasures,” economic security minister Sanae Takaichi said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Although Takaichi mentioned Australia had filed a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization in the past, the government is cautious about taking the case to the WTO at this stage.

The procedure takes years. In 2019, Japan lost a dispute at the WTO over import bans. The WTO’s appeal body effectively approved South Korea’s import ban on Japanese fishery products imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “We’ll take necessary measures under the framework of the WTO and others.” Hayashi emphasized the importance of dialogue, saying, “We would like to communicate with China closely and strongly urge responsible behavior on the Chinese side.”

Kishida met Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday and gained his “understanding and support” for the release of treated water.

Hayashi also held phone talks with Paraguay Foreign Minister Ruben Ramirez, who reportedly expressed support for Japan’s treated water release, saying it is being done “in compliance with international standards.”

The government plans to continue efforts to engage with countries on the matter to ensure others do not align with China.