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Seoul-Tokyo feud deepens over radioactive water

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Rep. Choi Jae-sung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), third from left, speaks during a meeting for the party’s special committee to counter Japan’s “retaliatory” trade restrictions on South Korea in this July 11 file photo, at the party’s meeting room at the National Assembly in Seoul.
October 3, 2019
The Japanese government’s continued reluctance to openly support dumping radioactive wastewater for fear of creating a fresh controversy over the destroyed Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima is adding concern to the already deteriorated Seoul-Tokyo relations.
 
Currently, more than 1 million tons of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the plant, according to government data. However, the site administrators have warned that they will run out of space by the summer of 2022.
 
A proposed plan to release the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean is angering South Korea. The government, which has yet to officially lift an import ban on fishery and agricultural products from Fukushima introduced in 2013, has recently claimed that discharging the water will pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment. But Japan has rejected this charge.
 
The Japanese Embassy in Seoul has been posting atmospheric radiation levels monitored in Seoul and Fukushima Prefecture since Sept. 24, updating them on a daily basis. The embassy said the levels in Fukushima were similar to other major cities worldwide including Seoul.
 
In response, a committee launched by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) published a map centered on the devastated nuclear plant that shows radiation-contaminated areas. The map marks stadiums for the 2020 Olympics ― including Miyagi, Fukushima Azuma, Ibaraki Kashima, Tokyo, and the Saitama Super Arena ― as contaminated by radiation from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
 
The DPK said the map was based on public data released by the Minnano Data Site, a Japanese civic organization, that lists radioactive measurements of food and soil.
 
“We made the map to show measures we can take to protect our people’s lives and safety,” said Rep. Choi Jae-sung, chairman of the committee. “Japan’s plan to release contaminated water is controversial, as marine products from many regions in Japan could be contaminated, and this could influence decisions by visitors for the Tokyo Olympics as well as participating athletes.”
 
Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono tweeted that he ordered the posting of radiation levels on the website of the embassy in Seoul in response to growing concerns over the issue here.
 
But critics are urging Japan to “do something more” as they say releasing the contaminated water will further raise concerns among South Korean and Japanese people.
 
They say Tokyo’s plan to use an advanced liquid-processing system to remove highly radioactive substances such as cesium from the water doesn’t completely filter out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen commonly found in cooling water released into the ocean by coastal nuclear power plants.
Nuclear specialists said tritium has the potential to in concentrated doses to damage cell structures in plants, animals and people, claiming “dilution” wasn’t the best option to avoid this. They said Tokyo should continue to store the water in areas outside the plant site despite opposition from local residents who were evacuated.
 
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, a minister for economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to complain about the plan to release the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
 

October 8, 2019 - Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , ,

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