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Japan pushes forward with plans to dump radioactive water into ocean, despite public opposition

Tokyo may dump contaminated water as early as September

8615976536687837Storage tanks for water contaminated with radioactive matter from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.


During the past three months, while the international community was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese government has held five public hearings as it moves forward with its decision to dump radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean. After analyzing the transcripts and videos from the hearings, the Hankyoreh has concluded that the Japanese government will probably decide to dump the water as early as September or October, despite overwhelming public opposition to the plan, even in Japan. Since a study has found that the contaminated water could reach the eastern coast of South Korea within a year of being dumped, international groups focusing on the environment and experts in international law are calling for the South Korean government to take preemptive action in the area of international law.

Following an explosion during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was closed and is being decommissioned, a process that has taken nine years so far. But debate continues about how to deal with the growing volume of water contaminated with radioactivity, including the water used to cool the nuclear fuel and rainwater and groundwater that have seeped into the buildings. The contaminated water is currently being stored in tanks, but by the summer of 2022, the Japanese government says, the tanks will run out of space, necessitating the water’s release into the ocean.

The Japanese government, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held video hearings about how to deal with the contaminated water on Apr. 6, Apr. 13, May 11, June 30, and July 17. These hearings were attended not only by representatives from the fishing, agriculture, and hospitality businesses and community leaders from Fukushima Prefecture but also the national tourist council and groups representing businesses and consumers. The government was represented by officials from 10 or so ministries, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Radioactive matter detected in water even after decontamination

While reviewing the hearings, the Hankyoreh learned that radioactive matter has been detected even following decontamination efforts, that releasing the water would likely cement Fukushima’s stigma as an area tainted with radioactivity and have a serious impact on the fishing industry, and that there was widespread opposition to the idea among hearing attendees, who argued that the final decision shouldn’t be made until public opinion has been canvassed.

An August 2019 report by international environmental group Greenpeace about the contaminated water at Fukushima found that the water, once released, would flow through the East China Sea and be brought via the Kuroshio Current and the Tsushima Current to South Korea’s eastern shore within a year. Disregarding the concerns of the international community, the Japanese government released a draft of a plan this past March to dump the contaminated water at Fukushima into the ocean over the course of 30 years. Given the plan’s schedule, which involves the construction of a facility to dilute the contaminated water, its decision will likely be made by this October. Abe told the press in an interview in March that he wants to finalize a plan as quickly as possible.

The Japanese government intends to make its final decision after canvassing the opinions of Fukushima residents, related organizations, and ordinary citizens. But even in the Japanese public, there’s fierce opposition to dumping the contaminated water. The Hankyoreh’s analysis of the transcripts and videos from the five hearings show that most of the 37 participants were concerned about the plan to release the water.

It’s human nature to avoid radioactive materials. It’s a serious problem that there’s still radioactivity even in the decontaminated water, which contradicts what TEPCO [Tokyo Electric Power Company] initially said,” said Hidenori Koito, the director of a trade association for the hospitality industry in Fukushima Prefecture.

80% of water contains radioactive matter beyond permissible levels

TEPCO claimed to have filtered out 62 kinds of radioactive material through the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) and all that’s left is tritium, which is technically difficult to remove from the contaminated water in the tanks. But a 2018 study found that 80% of the water processed using ALPS still contained more than the permitted level of radioactive matter that is deadly to the human body, including cesium, strontium, and iodine. While TEPCO has emphasized that it would decontaminate the water once more to ensure its safety prior to release, distrust has already surged.

Another criticism is that dumping the water would spoil the nine-year campaign by Fukushima residents to repair the area’s reputation. “If the contaminated water is released into the ocean, people will inevitably think there’s another radiation leak at Fukushima, given the nuclear accident that occurred there,” said Kimio Akimoto, president of a coalition of forestry associations in the prefecture.

Vehement opposition from fishermen

An even sterner stance was taken by fishermen, who depend upon the ocean for their livelihood. “It’s unacceptable for radioactive matter to be deliberately pumped into the ocean,” said Tetsu Nozaki, president of a coalition of fishery cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture. The national coalition of fishery cooperatives voted on July 23 to “oppose” the planned release of contaminated water.

There are also concerns that the government is rushing the plan. “The Japanese public doesn’t know the details about the contaminated water yet. The final decision shouldn’t be made until people understand what it means to dump contaminated water into the ocean,” said Yuki Urago, secretary-general of a national coalition of consumers’ associations.

Right now, the Japanese public is focused on COVID-19. It’s doubtful whether the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima can provoke a national debate in this situation,” said Yuko Endo, mayor of Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan took an unusually long opinion canvassing period

Before deciding on important policies, the Japanese government has a practice of canvassing opinions, a process known as the “public comment” period. The relevant ministry here, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, began collecting comments on Apr. 6 and took the unusual step of extending that period three times, only wrapping it up at the end of last month. One reason the government may have extended the comment period is because of the overwhelming opposition to releasing the contaminated water into the ocean.

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council released a statement expressing “deep concerns” about “a report indicating that the Japanese government is accelerating its timeframe for releasing water contaminated with radioactivity at Fukushima.” South Korea, given its proximity to Japan and the ocean, has set up a government-wide task force under the Office of the Prime Minister to keep tabs on the Japanese government’s actions.

We’re asking Japan to share adequate information while it’s processing the contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant. We’re monitoring the situation from various angles to see what impact this will have on us,” explained an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By Kim So-youn, staff reporter


September 1, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea Expresses Concern About New Fukushima Water Release Plan


30 Mar 2020 – 08:15 by OOSKAnews Correspondent

SEOUL, South Korea

South Korea has expressed concern about a new draft plan from Japan to release contaminated Fukushima water from its disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.

The country’s Office for Government Policy Coordination said March 26 that Japan should ensure that its plan does not affect the health and safety of South Koreans or the maritime ecosystem, while the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said that it “cannot support the Japanese government discharging contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the sea without discussions with neighbouring countries”.

South Korea’s latest protest came two days after the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) issued a more detailed draft plan to release the contaminated water over 30 years.

Currently, treated, but still radioactive water, is accumulating at about 170 tons per day and is being treated to remove most contaminants, following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

TEPCO reports that currently there is 1.19 million cubic meters of contaminated water in storage on site. The concentration of tritium, which cannot be completely removed, is about 730,000 Bq/litre, or a total of 16 grams. Quantities of treated water are increasing constantly and storage capacity is expected to run out in 2021.

The utility’s report discusses the treatment and disposal methods, which have been developed by outside experts, as being “practical options, both of which have precedents in current practice…the radiation impact of both the discharge into the sea and vapor release is notably small, compared to natural radiation exposure,” saying that the government of Japan, not TEPCO, will make the final decision as to release.

The tritium concentration will be lowered as much as possible under the plan: “For vapor release: TEPCO will study dilution of tritium at a rate equivalent to that for discharge into the sea, as against the regulatory concentration limit of tritium in the atmosphere (5 Bq in 1 liter air)…For discharge into the sea: TEPCO will study dilution rates of tritium with reference to operational standards for “groundwater bypass” and “subdrains” (1,500 Bq in 1 liter water), which are well below the regulatory concentration limit for tritium in seawater (60,000 Bq in 1 liter water).” This is against WHO drinking water guideline (10,000 Bq in 1 liter water)”

If any abnormality is detected, the disposal process will stopped under the draft plan. Monitoring will be enhanced by [an] increase in sampling points and frequency; information will be published promptly.

The report is described as being aimed at the general public and other stakeholders who plan to participate in government-organised “opinion hearings”.

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Fukushima’s radioactive water discharge is important to Koreans’

optimizeGreenpeace nuclear campaigner Shaun Burnie in front of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the accident. The environmental organization has launched an underwater investigation into the marine impacts of radioactive contamination on the Pacific Ocean resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster,

By Bahk Eun-ji

March 13, 2020

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, has been working in Fukushima since 1997 to stop the operation of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with much of his time based in Japan.

Among a number of nuclear experts around the world who have been condemning the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Burnie claims this issue is clearly important to Koreans as they understand the risks of nuclear energy and care about the environment.

“Fukushima is a defining issue of this time as it continues to pose a threat to the environment not just of Japan but the Asia Pacific region. This is a nuclear disaster with no end and Koreans realize that only by speaking up and opposing bad decisions can the progress be made in protecting our environment,” he said.

The nuclear expert said the opposition in Korea to the Japanese government’s plan to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima is entirely justified and essential, so the opposition should continue here in Korea. At the same time, Koreans also should be supporting the local Japanese communities who are opposed to the discharges.

Burnie also said the discharges of the contaminated water are a direct threat to the marine ecosystem and human health as all radioactivity has the potential to cause harm as technically there is no safe level of exposure. The discharges are more than tritium, which can cause damage to human and non-human DNA, but also many other radionuclides such as strontium that, even if processing of the contaminated water is successful, will still be discharged in enormous quantities.

“None of this can be justified from an environmental perspective when there is a clear alternative ― long term storage and processing to remove radionuclides, including tritium.”

The Japanese government has sought for many years to deny that there are radiation risks in Fukushima, which is a central part of their strategy to support nuclear power. By creating the illusion that Fukushima has recovered from the 2011 disaster, the Japanese government think they can convince people to support the restarting of nuclear reactors although the majority of Japanese people are against it.

“It is one reason why the human rights of tens of thousands of Fukushima citizens, including women and children, as well as tens of thousands of workers are violated consistently by the Japanese government,” he said.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea, US Discuss Fukushima Wastewater, Marine Issues


January 17, 2020

South Korea and the U.S. held a director-level meeting on maritime and environment issues in Seoul on Thursday.

According to the Foreign Ministry on Friday, the two sides discussed the possibility of Japan releasing contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster site into the ocean.

They also shared views on ways to preserve marine environments.

The two sides discussed how they plan to reduce marine debris and ways to open the Seventh International Marine Debris Conference in South Korea in 2022.

During the meeting, South Korea called on the U.S. to swiftly take steps to remove South Korea from its preliminary list of countries that engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated(IUU) fishing.

South Korea was designated as a preliminary IUU fishing country by the U.S. after two South Korean fishing boats violated closed fishing grounds and operated near Antarctica in 2017.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Korea should take leading role in stopping Japan from discharging radioactive water’

Chang Mari, a Climate and Energy Campaigner at the Greenpeace East Asia Seoul Office, poses for a picture during the inspection in Fukushima, Japan, in October 2019
January 4, 2020
By Kim Jae-heun
“Korea should take a leading role in stopping Japan from discharging radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean,” said Chang Mari, a Climate and Energy Campaigner at the Greenpeace East Asia Seoul Office, Tuesday.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed last Monday its draft reviewing three ways to dispose of 1.15 million tons of radioactive contaminated water stored in some 980 tanks at power plants in Fukushima. It said Japan can discharge the radioactive water into the ocean, evaporate it into the air or a combination of the two methods.
Chang warned that if Japan really chooses to dump contaminated water into the ocean, it can cause serious damage to marine life and the ecosystems of not only the neighboring countries but the whole world.
“Korea, obviously will be affected the most by the discharge, as Japan’s closest neighbor. However, water flows and it will eventually bring damage to the whole world,” Chang said. “When a tsunami hit nuclear power plants in Fukushima in 2011, a high level of radioactive water leaked into the Pacific Ocean and it traveled around the world for a year to return to the East Sea. We found the level of cesium went up in the water there.
“The world knows this is dangerous but nobody is taking action because Japan has not confirmed its final decision on this issue yet. Tokyo is now observing what other nations have to say about their draft. However, other countries, especially developed countries, cannot protest Japan confidently, because they have had or still are discharging radioactive waste into the environment as well,” Chang said.
According to Chang, the United States, Russia and China are not entitled to complain to Japan about the pollution. Even South Korea has been operating nuclear power plants and has already flown tritium into the sea, so it cannot be innocent.
However, the amount of tritium flowing into the sea at the time of nuclear power generation is much smaller than the amount Japan is reviewing to discharge.
“Korea will suffer an unprecedented and unpredictable level of damage if Japan release radioactive water into the ocean. Therefore, Korea has to take action on the national level and conduct research to set it as a global agenda in solving it,” Chang said.
“Approaching the issue with the international law of the sea, it is Korea that has to take the leading role, because it will be affected the most as a neighboring country,” Chang added.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Korean gov’t inactive over Japan’s plan to discharge radioactive water into Pacific

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Nov. 13. A body of experts, Monday, proposed discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean or evaporating it, and the Japanese government is likely to accept one of the options.
December 24, 2019
Korea’s government remains idle while Japan makes plans to release radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Multiple government organizations here related to the issue are passing the buck to one another, with each saying it is not in charge of the matter.
On Monday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed a draft of an experts’ report on possible ways for it to deal with more than 1 million tons of contaminated water stored at the nuclear plant following the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 ― to discharge it into the ocean, evaporate it into the air or a combination of the two methods. The trade ministry will soon make a final decision after reviewing the draft.
These three ways are the most hazardous ― and at the same time cheapest ― options for the Japanese government to “manage” the contaminated material, according to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at the German branch of Greenpeace.
Environmental groups both in Korea and Japan have also opposed the idea of discharging the water into the ocean, suggesting this action will not only have a devastating effect on marine life in the immediate region but also around the Pacific Rim.
However, related government bodies here have neither taken action in response to the report nor made any official announcements to clarify their positions.
Both Korea’s Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said they are not the ministries responsible for the issue. The environment ministry’s account contradicted what Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said in early September, that he would do his best to ensure his Japanese counterpart will not discharge contaminated water into the ocean.
“As the environment ministry is in charge of the issue of fine dust coming from China, it should play an active role in the Fukushima water contamination issue as well,” Cho told reporters at the time.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which both the environment and fishery ministries pointed to as the main government body to deal with the issue, said it has not held any meetings to discuss Japan’s recent report.
The Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Prime Minister’s Secretariat said an official in charge of the matter went is on vacation and there is no one else to talk to about the issue.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only repeated the same stance over the issue, saying it is confirming the facts with its Japanese counterpart about the draft report and it will put top priority on the people’s safety and cooperate with related government bodies and overseas organizations in solving the issue.
Contrary to the government’s inaction, civic groups reacted quickly.
Greenpeace released a statement, Monday, saying “there is no justification for additional, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment or atmosphere.”
“Any decision to discharge over 1 million tons of highly radioactive water in the Pacific or into the atmosphere is clearly a direct concern to the people of Fukushima, including fisheries,” it said. “However, this is not just a domestic issue and the government of Japan must explain to the international community including its nearest neighbors in Asia why it advocates for discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean or releasing it into the atmosphere while failing to develop alternative solutions.”
Earlier in August, Burnie said in his column published in the Korean edition of The Economist that, as Japan’s closest neighbor, Korea’s marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people themselves will be influenced directly by the radioactivity.
Ahn Jae-hun, energy team manager at Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, said the Japanese government is moving to dispose of the contaminated water via the easiest and cheapest method.
“We cannot forecast how much more contaminated water will be produced from the nuclear plant. If it really is discharged, it will affect the waters of neighboring countries. Once contaminated, restoring the water quality is difficult,” Ahn said. “The discharge is entirely inappropriate.”

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

OLYMPICS/ S. Korea to bring food, check for radiation at Tokyo Games

korea japan.jpg

December 4, 2019

SEOUL–South Korea’s Olympic committee plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games because of worries local food may be contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Japan has posted data to show the country is safe from Fukushima radiation and many countries have lifted Fukushima-related food restrictions.

The Korea Sports & Olympic Committee (KSOC) plans to ship red pepper paste, a key ingredient in Korean dishes, and other foods, and check for radiation in meat and vegetables that can only be sourced locally due to stringent quarantine rules, a KSOC meals plan report shows.

“Apparently, ingredients and food will be transported from South Korea as much as possible, possibly including canned food,” Shin Dong-keun, a ruling Democratic Party member of the parliamentary sports committee who was recently briefed by KSOC, told Reuters in an interview.

“For this Olympic games, food is our team’s main focus so they can provide safe meals for the athletes to erase radiation worries, as opposed to in the past, food was meant to play the supplementary role of helping with their morale.”

KSOC plans to arrange local Korean restaurants to prepare meals for baseball and softball players competing in Fukushima, as shipping boxed lunches from Tokyo is not feasible, it said in the “2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Meals Support Center Plan.”

“These Korean restaurants should only handle food confirmed as radiation free,”

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air.


Greenpeace said on Wednesday that radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin.

South Korea has stepped up demands for a Japanese response to concerns food produced in the Fukushima area and nearby sea could be contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima plant.

Japan is having trouble removing more than 1 million tons of contaminated water from the crippled plant.

When it finalizes menus around April, the KSOC will consider asking Tokyo to ease its stringent quarantine ban on South Korean produce, an official at the committee said.

The official said South Korea was preparing a separate meals plan due to concerns from the public and politicians over food safety, unlike the United States and Australia whose athletes will mainly eat food provided by the host country, Japan.

The official requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

South Korea’s concerns about possible contamination from the nuclear disaster has become a thorn in already contentious ties with Japan.

Seoul has banned imports of seafood from Japan’s Fukushima region since the nuclear disaster, prompting Tokyo to launch a World Trade Organization complaint. Japan has said many nations such as the United States and Australia had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

Japanese officials use international events to promote the recovery of areas hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster to show produce from Fukushima Prefecture is safe.

Mineral water from Fukushima was served on tables at the last month’s Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting it hosted in Nagoya.

The South Korean Olympic committee plan to purchase radiation detecting equipment by February and station an inspector at its own cafeteria in Tokyo during the games to check contamination levels, according to the KSOC report.

The budget for the Tokyo Olympics meals service is earmarked at 1.7 billion won ($1.44 million or 155 million yen), which includes twice the amount of money for buying and shipping ingredients than previous games, according to the committee.

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea nuclear regulator wants information on radioactive Fukushima water release

hjjmmlù.jpgA geiger counter measures a radiation level of 54.0 microsievert per hour near the No.2 and No.3 reactor buildings at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019

November 20, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – Japan’s reluctance to disclose information about the release of radioactive water from its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant is hampering neighboring countries’ efforts to minimize the impact, the head of South Korea’s nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday.

Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at some of the reactors the Fukushima plant, owner Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has been storing radioactive water in tanks at the site from the cooling pipes used to keep the fuel cores from melting. The utility will run out of space for the water in 2022.

Japan has not yet decided how to deal with the contaminated water, but its environment minister said in September that radioactive water would have to be released from the site into the Pacific Ocean.

“We have been raising Japan’s radioactive water issue to the international community to minimize the impact … but as Japan hasn’t disclosed any specific plan and process we would need more details to run simulations and study,” Uhm Jae-sik, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, told Reuters.

In addition to the Fukushima crisis, safety concerns about nuclear energy have increased in South Korea following a 2012 scandal over the supply of faulty reactors parts with forged documents, prompting a series of shutdowns of nuclear reactors.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power, targets a long-term phase out of atomic power to allay public concerns.

“Regardless of the government’s energy policy change, our primary goal is ensuring the safety of nuclear power,” Uhm said.

South Korea operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about a third of the country’s total electricity. Of the 25 reactors, 10 are offline for maintenance, according to the website of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

(This story corrects the word “specific” to clarify meaning in translated quote in paragraph 4)

November 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea, Russia agree to put radiation detectors on ferries

November 08, 2019
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Russia have agreed to put radiation detectors on the passenger ships that ply between the countries, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Friday, an apparent move to enhance their watch against Japan’s planned release of radiation-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
The agreement came at the 14th meeting of the South Korea-Russia Joint Committee on Environment Cooperation held in Seoul on Thursday.
“It is aimed at enhancing the countries’ monitoring of radioactive materials,” the ministry said.
The move comes as Japan is widely expected to soon begin dumping waste water from its nuclear power plant in Fukushima, whose reactors experienced catastrophic meltdown in 2011.
Tokyo claims the radiation-contaminated water will have little or no effect on the environment as it will be discharged after being thoroughly treated.
Seoul has strongly opposed the plan, insisting it may destroy the entire ecosystem in the region.
South Korea currently bans any fishery and agricultural products from Fukushima and adjacent areas, and is checking nearly all food imports from Japan for radiation.
As of end-August, about 5 tons of Japanese food imports have been rejected or destroyed due to possible radiation contamination, the government said earlier.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Chefs to join Team South Korea in Tokyo Olympics

optimizePresident of Korean Sports and Olympic Committee Lee Kee-heung

November 5, 2019

Chefs and food ingredients will accompany the South Korean team and delegation traveling to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year. The chefs will prepare food for the South Koreans using homegrown ingredients for the duration of the Games.

Korean Sports and Olympic Committee (KSOC) President Lee Kee-heung, also a member of the International Olympic Committee, unveiled the measures to allay fears over food safety which were raised after Japan announced it would use food products from Fukushima, a region hit hard by a 2011 tsunami and an ensuing meltdown at the nuclear power plant there.

“The KSOC is planning to expand the meal station for Korean athletes during the games to address the food safety issue,” he wrote in a recent written interview with The Korea Times. “Korean food has superb nutritional value and we believe it will help the athletes perform at their best. We will also deliver lunch boxes to the stadiums so our athletes can focus on getting medals,” Lee said.

Earlier, the Japanese Olympic Committee said it would serve athletes food made using ingredients from Fukushima, a region in which water and soil are feared to remain contaminated with radioactivity following the meltdown. South Korea banned rice and vegetable imports from the region immediately after the incident.

The Tokyo Olympics is not the first international sports event where the KSOC has dispatched chefs to prepare meals for athletes. During the 2012 London Olympics, the KSOC sent chefs and nutritionists from the national training center to cook for Korean athletes and staff who craved food from home.

Food safety is among other touchy issues at the Olympics.

The “Rising Sun” flag, a symbol for many in Asia of Japanese colonialism, is another pre-Olympics issue that some South Koreans find concerning. The issue has been raised by Seoul since September after relations with Japan deteriorated following it imposing trade restrictions on certain exports to Korea. In response, Japan said use of the flag does not violate the Japanese Constitution.

Lee said the KSOC has been working to make an Asian alliance to push Japan to not fly it.

“During the 24th Association of the National Olympic Committee (ANOC) General Assembly in Qatar earlier this year, I met with other Asian state representatives and discussed ways to address the issue together. On this issue, our effort to change Japan’s policy will continue and with the support of the government,” he said. ANOC has an annual meeting, and this year’s congress took place in Doha.

Joint Korea team

Lee said he was cautiously optimistic about fielding a joint team between the two Koreas for the Tokyo Olympics, saying the KSOC has continued to talk with the North.

However, another high-level official, who didn’t want to disclose his name because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a joint team may be a distant dream. “Considering what’s going on in inter-Korean relations, it’s difficult to move on a joint team,” he said. He had taken part in negotiations with the North in the past.

A joint team for the 2020 Olympics was agreed in November 2018 at inter-Korean talks held in Gaesong in the North. That year, President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held three summits.

The governments of the two Koreas agreed to form unified teams in female basketball, female hockey, judo and rowing. “The IOC approved this under one condition ― that is the unified teams would start from qualifying matches,” the anonymous official said.

For all sports but basketball, qualifying matches are already underway. “Basketball qualifying matches will begin at the end of the year. Yet, if things go the way it goes now, unifying a basketball team will be out of the question,” he said. But, he added hopes remain in judo. “In judo, individual athletes compete for qualification. We can consider making a joint team with qualified athletes.”

However, the political situation will hold full sway over the joint team and the current circumstances are not very promising.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korean-built facilities at Mount Geumgang, including a hotel. North Korea’s aggressive treatment of South Korean football players during their World Cup qualifying game also cast a shadow on the prospects for a joint team.

Despite this, there is still hope for a possible peace gesture during the Olympics.

The official said a joint march at the opening ceremony could still happen. “This has been done several times now, so we could continue to do it.”

North and South Korean athletes have marched together at international sports events 11 times so far. The most recent being the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea ― the Koreas also fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team.

In addition to creating the joint team, the two Koreas also agreed to submit a joint bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics, and President Lee said they have a very good chance.

“The Korean Peninsula can be a symbol of peace which will be something we can take advantage of in our campaign for the Olympics,” Lee said, noting that South Korea will host the next ANOC General Assembly. “This will be also a good opportunity to show the sports community that the Koreas are qualified to host the Olympics.”

As an IOC member representing Korea, Lee is at the center of sports diplomacy.

“Now, Korea has two IOC representatives, which has elevated its standing in global sports.” Korea’s sports diplomacy had its heyday in the 2000s when it had three IOC representatives, but in 2017, the number went down to one, raising concern that its standing had weakened.”

Lee viewed the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as demonstrating Korea’s success in sports diplomacy. “This helped Korea get two IOC representatives.”

100th National Sports Festival

With regard to the centennial of the National Sports Festival, Lee said he was saddened by the decreasing public interest. “It will be my job to revamp the festival so that it will recover its lost popularity with bigger public interest and participation.”

The festival started out as an act of resistance to colonial Japan in 1920. In the first year, only baseball was played but other sports were added over the century. This year saw 47 sports including trials of two new ones.

Over the century, the festival served as an incubator for world-class athletes. Figure-skater Kim Yu-na competed in the festival as did Swimmer Park Tae-hwan. The festival has also contributed to developing the infrastructure for Korean sports.

Born in 1955, Lee’s background has been in business, not sports. His first step into the world of sports was with the Federation of the Modern Pentathlon where he served as vice president in 2000. Between 2004 and 2009, he was the president of the Korea Canoe Federation, followed by the Korea Swimming Federation between 2010 and 2016..

He headed the athlete’s team in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou in China and 2012 London Summer Olympics.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Korea brings up Fukushima’s radioactive water disposal issue at WHO

October 15, 2019
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that it conveyed the Korean government’s concerns over radioactive water disposal at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, during the 70th World Health Organization’s West Pacific Regional Conference.
Kang Dae-tae, assistant minister for the Planning and Coordination Office at the ministry and chief representative of the regional meeting, expressed concern about the handling of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant and urged the Japanese government and international agencies to respond with care.
“Disposing of radioactive water into the sea is not just a problem for Japan but an international issue that can have a significant impact on the marine environment of the Western Pacific region and the health of its people,” Kang said. “The WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, along with relevant international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has to minimize the impact on the health of the residents of the region.”
Kang urged the international bodies to disclose relevant information transparently so that there is no unnecessary anxiety when Japan decides on how to dispose of the contaminated water.
In response to Korea’s concerns, the Japanese health ministry officials said that they have made efforts to share information and clean up contaminated water, but have not currently decided on how to deal with Fukushima’s contaminated water.
The Japanese officials also noted that the decision to discharge the radioactive waters would be made under international standards such as the International Radiation Protection Committee.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is now sitting on a million-ton of water contaminated with radioactive elements while the amount grows around 150 tons a day.
While the Japanese government has claimed that it has removed most of the radioactive isotopes using an elaborate filtration process, it could not eliminate one isotope, tritium, so it has been storing the water in large tanks, which will fill up by 2022.
Some scientists have claimed that tritium causes harm to humans except in very high concentrations, and the IAEA also argues that properly filtered Fukushima water could be diluted with seawater and then safely released into the ocean without causing environmental problems.
However, other experts have claimed that even the diluted version of tritium can affect cell structures in plants, animals, or humans. The consensus of dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean also faces fierce backlash from both the Japanese fisherman groups and the Korean government, they said.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea Brings Fukushima Radioactive Water Sea Dumping Issue at International London Convention and Protocol of Marine Pollution

S. Korea raises issue of Fukushima’s contaminated water dump to international convention

Japan says it will keep international community updated on progress

157077756772_20191012Song Myeong-dal, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries ocean environment policy officer, represents South Korea during a consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and London Protocol on Oct. 7.


The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) raised the danger of Japan’s ocean dump of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting in London concerning an international convention. Japan responded by saying it would keep the international community informed of the progress on an ongoing basis. The developments suggest South Korea was successful in raising international interest in and concern about Japan’s irresponsible approach to the disposal of contaminated water from Fukushima.

On Oct. 10, the MOF reported that the day before, representatives had attended a consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter – which opened in London on Oct. 7 – to express concerns to Japan concerning the handling of the contaminated water from Fukushima and request ongoing interest in the issue at the consultative meeting level. The meeting was attended by representatives of 47 contracted parties, as well as international organizations such as the OECD and NGOs including Greenpeace.

The Japanese government has recently talked several times about the ‘unavoidability’ of an ocean dump as a way of dealing with contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant,” Song Myeong-dal, MOF ocean environment policy officer and senior South Korean representative at the meeting, said on Oct. 9.

If [Japan] does release contaminated water from the plant into the ocean, this could have an impact on the global oceanic environment and be in violation of the aims of the London Protocol,” Song warned. Article 2 of the London Convention and Protocol states that contracting parties “shall individually and collectively protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and take effective measures [. . . ] to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping or incineration at sea of wastes or other matter.”

Song stressed that the Japanese government “needs to be transparent about its means of handling contaminated nuclear power plant water, adequately communicating and discussing important matters such as its handling methods and schedule with neighboring countries and the international community in the future and deciding on a safe and rational approach.”

In order to find a method of contaminated nuclear power plant water handling that the international community can be confident is safe, I think this matter should be discussed on an ongoing basis by the consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol ,” he suggested.

157077756799_20191012A consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and London Protocol on Oct. 7.


In response, a representative of the Japanese government reiterated the position that the matter was “not something to be discussed by the consultative meeting,” adding that there had been “no decision within the Japanese government on how to handle the contaminated nuclear power plant water” and that the international community would be “kept informed about the process.” The representative also presented information on the water’s handling that was previously shared in September with locally stationed diplomats in Japan.

Greenpeace expresses similar concern about ocean dump

The issue of contaminated water had not previously been discussed within the context of the London Protocol at past consultative meetings since the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In addition to South Korea, representatives from China and Chile also expressed concerns at the latest meeting over the possibility of Japan dumping the contaminated water into the sea and suggested that the issue would be the focus of ongoing discussions at the meeting.

The NGO Greenpeace similarly shared concerns about the possibility of an ocean dump in a document at the meeting containing “concerns and questions about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant contaminated water release plan.” Contending that the Japanese system for handling contaminated nuclear power plant water is “inefficient,” it proposed that the international community work together on finding a solution.

During a Compliance Group meeting held ahead of the consultative meeting on Oct. 3–4, the South Korean representative strongly emphasized the need to review the ocean release of radioactive waste matter within the context of the London Protocol, insisting that Japan should not be allowed to make a unilateral decision on whether to proceed with the dumping of contaminated nuclear power plant water into the ocean. The Compliance Group meeting was established to discuss whether contracted parties to the protocol are complying with their obligations.

In bilateral meetings with major countries and through issues raised in the Compliance Group setting, the South Korean government rallied support for the position that this matter should be addressed at the consultative meeting,” said Song Myeong-dal.

We will continue to make such requests at this meeting and other international meetings going forward so that the Japanese government can find an approach that we can be confident is safe,” he pledged.


South Korea Brings Fukushima Wastewater Issue to London Convention Meeting

October 11, 2019

The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) raised the danger of Japan’s contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting to the London Convention. 


South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) deemed the danger of Japan’s contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting to the London Convention. 

The London Convention controls pollution of the seas and oceans by dumping and covers the deliberate disposal of wastes and other matter into the world’s waters, according to the U.S. EPA. The discharged water will have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people in Korea, according to the Korea Times.

As of Aug. 22, approximately 1.1 million tons of contaminated water is being stored in 977 tanks at the decommissioned power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami

The Japanese government said recently it will only build more facilities through 2020, which will bring the total stored volume to 1.37 million tons, according to Science Page News. The storage facilities are projected to be filled by August 2020, which suggests that there will be no more tanks to hold the 170 tons of radiation-contaminated water created daily.

If [Japan] does release contaminated water from the plant into the ocean, this could have an impact on the global oceanic environment and be in violation of the aims of the London Protocol,” said Song Myeong-dal, MOF ocean environment policy officer and senior South Korean representative. “In order to find a method of contaminated nuclear power plant water handling that the international community can be confident is safe, I think this matter should be discussed on an ongoing basis by the consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol.”

In response, a representative of the Japanese government said that the matter was not something to be discussed by the consultative meeting and that the international community would be kept informed about the process, reported the Hankyoreh.

“There is another option to deal with radioactive water. Japan can keep it in the tanks until the radiation level becomes low enough. But this takes time and money. It will take about 300 years until it is okay to discharge the water,” said Kim Ik-jung, a former medical professor and member of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to the Korea Times.

South Korea plans to continue to raise the wastewater issue to the international community until Japan comes up with a safe and acceptable solution, according to the Hankyoreh.


October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea raises worries over Fukushima waste water at global maritime conference

October 10, 2019
South Korea raised the issue of Japan’s reported plan to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean …at a global conference of the International Maritime Organization in London this week.
During a meeting to discuss the London Convention and Protocol… Seoul’s fishery ministry demanded that Tokyo transparently disclose information over its handling of the contaminated water and called for continuous discussion of the issue.
The London Protocol is aimed at preventing marine pollution and bans the export of waste or other matter to other countries for dumping or incineration at sea.
However, the direct dumping of wastewater from land to sea has been absent from the discussion.
With the management of radioactive waste on the agenda for this year’s meeting, …representatives from China and Chile also expressed their concern and called for more discussions over the matter.
Ghana’s representative to the IMO, who is the chair of the meeting, also noted that the issue can be brought up for discussion and that Japan should provide information.
For the first time, Japan’s representative said it will continue to provide transparent information concerning the contaminated water at Fukushima.
This is the latest effort by the Korean government to deter Tokyo from discharging an estimated million tons of contaminated water stored at its Fukushima plant.
Last month, Seoul raised the issue at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
At the gathering, Japan dismissed criticisms, claiming they were not based on scientific evidence.
Park Se-young, Arirang News.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Activists urge Japan to avoid Fukushima in Tokyo Olympics

Oct 10, 2019
South Korean civic groups on Thursday kicked off a global campaign against potential radiation risks during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, demanding that Japan ban Fukushima food products and cancel games at the Japanese city.
“We launch an international campaign to protect thousands of athletes and visitors at the Tokyo Olympics from radiation risks and to stop the Japanese government from using the Olympics as a tool” to conceal lingering damages from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the environmental groups told a press briefing in Seoul.
Taking part in the initiative are a handful of Korean environmental organizations, consisting of activists and academics, as well as major environmental and anti-nuclear groups based in Germany, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The civic groups demanded the Japanese government and Olympics organizers refrain from providing food produced near Fukushima and cancel games scheduled to be held in the city. They also urged the torch relay to be held in areas outside of Fukushima, which was hit by the nuclear disaster caused by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
They also claimed that if Japan seeks to misuse Olympic events for a political or commercial purpose, it would goes against the Olympic spirit.
The environmental groups said they plan to collect signatures through an online website and hold international conferences to raise awareness on the risks of radiation.
Some baseball and softball games are scheduled to take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games website.
It also shows that a 121-day torch relay will “commence on March 26, 2020, in Fukushima Prefecture and start its journey southwards” in an aim at “showcasing solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.” (Yonhap)

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Report Confirms Hazardous Radioactive Materials Contained in Contaminated Fukushima Water

South Korean environmental activists hold a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 8, 2018, to protest against Japan’s decision to release the Fukushima nuclear plant’s radioactive, contaminated water into the sea.
October 4, 2019
SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — As Japan seeks to release contaminated water from its disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean media revealed that the tainted water contains hazardous radioactive materials.
KBS News reported on Thursday that a report submitted by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry early this week confirmed the presence of the hazardous radioactive materials, such as cesium and strontium, in the contaminated water.
The report said that cesium, strontium, and iodine 129 exceeded standard levels in 82 percent of all contaminated water kept in Fukushima as of October of last year.
It was also revealed that 17 percent of the tainted water emitted radiation that was ten times stronger than the annual limit on radiation exposure (1 mSv/Y), while 7 percent of the water contained radioactive materials that were 100 times stronger.
In an interview with KBS News, a TEPCO official said that “problems with the filters and several systems in the water treatment facility prevented it from being run at full capacity for a certain period.”
TEPCO said it can no longer accommodate the contaminated water that is being produced every day since the East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and has proposed a plan to release it to the atmosphere or the sea.
Roughly 170 tons of contaminated water is being produced at the Fukushima Power Plant every day. As of last July, the total amount of tainted water had reached 1.15 million tons.
The Japanese government, in contrast, has been claiming that the water now only contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope known to exist in the natural environment.
Neighboring states, including South Korea, are strongly opposing the idea of releasing the water, since it may cause secondary damage.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency understands the issues and concerns that we face. They are also keeping a close watch on the matter,” said Uhm Jae-sik, head of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment