China Demands Expanded Survey of Soil, Pre-Treated Water at Fukushima; Japan Rejects Demand Citing International Standards

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A view of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

China has demanded that Japan expand the scope of its environmental assessment around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it has been learned. The demand was made during meetings of a consultative expert group set up by the two governments. Japan rejected the demand on the grounds that it has been carrying out the necessary research based on International Atomic Energy Agency standards.

The bilateral expert body was set up to discuss issues related to the discharge of treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s nuclear plant after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in San Francisco in November to “find ways to resolve issues through consultation and dialogue.”

The consultative expert group met twice, in January and March, with the Japanese side explaining that it has been monitoring seawater and fish in accordance with IAEA standards, and that an IAEA survey team, which consists of a Chinese expert, is regularly surveying the area too.

In response, the Chinese side demanded Japan start surveying the soil around the power plant and the quality of contaminated water before treatment, including in areas beyond where the IAEA set in accordance with international standards.

The Japanese and Chinese governments sought a meeting between Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, earlier this month for preliminary discussions ahead of a meeting between Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Seoul. However, the meeting never took place because the two governments were unable to reach an agreement on the issue of treated water.

“We feel no will on the Chinese side to make progress on the issue of treated water,” a government official said.