Fukushima Discharge Triggers Crank Calls to Public Institutions, Restaurants and Hotels from Chinese Numbers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tiananmen Square in Beijing in February 2020

Public institutions, restaurants and other entities in Japan have been receiving crank calls since treated water began to be discharged from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Thursday.

Many of the calls were reportedly from numbers beginning with the Chinese country code “86.”

Fukushima Mayor Hiroshi Kohata said in a social media post on Saturday that the city hall had received at least 200 suspicious calls. Such calls were also received at elementary and junior high schools, as well as at restaurants, hotels and inns in the city, he said.

Gattsuri Ramen Ichibuta, a ramen shop in the city, received more than 800 crank calls on Friday. The callers reportedly spoke in Chinese with some Japanese words, such as “shorisui,” meaning treated water. The shop disconnected the phone because such calls disrupted its business.

“It’s causing problems as we can’t respond to questions from our customers,” said Ippei Yamamoto, 42, who runs the ramen shop.

A municipal cultural facility in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, began receiving crank calls shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday. The callers spoke in such languages as Chinese, English and Japanese, saying such things as “Why are you releasing dirty water?” According to the ward office, these calls continued, bringing the total number to several hundred as of Saturday. The ward office said it consulted the Metropolitan Police Department as its operations were being disrupted.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Embassy in China posted a message on its official account for Chinese social media platform Weibo saying that people and organizations in Japan unrelated to the release of treated water have been receiving crank calls from China. The embassy said in the post that it had asked the Chinese government to take legal action.