Thursday, August 24, 2023

China takes retaliatory action in response to Japan's release of purified nuclear water following the Fukushima disaster

The contentious dumping of treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean has begun in Japan, which has sparked protests in the surrounding area and retribution from Beijing.

China is Japan's largest customer for fish, but on Thursday, China said that it will stop all imports of seafood from Japan.

The Japanese government maintains that the water is safe to drink, and numerous scientists concur. The idea has also received approval from the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations.

However, detractors argue that the release should be postponed until additional research has been conducted on the topic.

Over the next three decades, the nuclear reactor will release more than one million metric tons' worth of water that has been stored there.

China, which has been the most outspoken opponent of the plan ever since it was disclosed two years ago, referred to the water discharge as a "extremely selfish and irresponsible act" and claimed that Japan was "passing an open wound onto the future generations of humanity."

Shortly after that, China's customs agency made the announcement that an existing ban on seafood imports from Fukushima and some other prefectures in Japan will immediately be expanded to cover the entirety of Japan in order to "protect the health of Chinese consumers."

The measure is intended to have a negative impact on the economy, and Japan has acknowledged that its companies will suffer a "significant" loss as a result. Together, Mainland China and Hong Kong make up about half of Japan's total seafood export revenue, purchasing more than $1.1 billion (£866 million) worth of seafood from Japan each year.

Analysts, however, believe that the responses from China, in particular, are driven more by politics than they are by real concerns.

The relationship between Tokyo and Beijing has worsened in recent years as a result of Tokyo's growing proximity to the United States and its support for Taiwan, a self-ruled island that is claimed by China.

The Fukushima controversy has a negative impact on Japan's seafood industry.

"This incident is more of a symptom than a cause of worsening Sino-Japanese relations," said Chinese foreign policy expert Neil Thomas with the Asia Society Policy Institute. "This incident"

If Beijing's relationship with Tokyo was in a better situation, it's possible the Chinese capital would have made less of a fuss about the water release.

In response, Japan is likely to "reject this criticism, but they are unlikely to do anything provocative," according to James DJ Brown, a professor at Temple University's Japan campus who specializes in Japanese foreign policy. Brown is quoted as saying that Japan is unlikely to do anything else that could be considered provocative.

"Even though the government of Japan is deeply troubled by what it views as the aggressive actions of the Chinese Communist Party, they are aware that it is in their best interests to maintain stable relations with their larger neighbor."

On the other hand, the delay might not be necessary for very long. Some commentators are of the opinion that China will not continue to enforce the prohibition.

According to Mr. Thomas, "China's growing economic difficulties could mean that any ban is relatively brief and narrow, so as to limit the negative impact on Chinese importers and business sentiment," and he added this.

In addition, certain Japanese seafood has been prohibited on the market in South Korea for a very long time. On the other hand, the response from the authorities of that country on Thursday was more quiet.

"What is important now is whether Japan, as it promised to the international community, strictly follows the scientific standards and transparently provides information," Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said.

Despite their long-standing animosity toward one another, South Korea and Japan have grown closer in recent years. They stand together in their support of the together States while confronting the dangers posed by China and North Korea.

On the other hand, the vast majority of people living in South Korea are against the release of the water, and on Thursday demonstrators in Seoul attempted to storm the Japanese embassy. Hong Kong and Tokyo each saw their own versions of the angry demonstrations.

In the meantime, Mark Brown, the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, which had criticized the idea in the past, stated that the organization now believes the plan "meets international safety standards."

"Negligible impact" on the surrounding natural environment

Since the Fukushima nuclear power plant was destroyed by a tsunami in 2011, the power plant company Tepco has been continuously pouring water into the reactors in order to cool down the fuel rods. This indicates that the factory produces contaminated water on a daily basis, which is then treated and stored in extremely large tanks.

Even after being treated, the water still has unacceptable quantities of the radioactive chemicals tritium and carbon-14, both of which are difficult to eliminate. The answer that Japan has come up with is to first dilute it with seawater and then release it into the ocean.

In spite of the fact that over one thousand tanks have been refilled, Japan maintains that this cannot be a viable long-term solution. It has been maintained that the water can be safely discharged after it has been treated and diluted.

The plan has received support from a significant number of scientists, who believe it to be plausible. The International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations has also stated that the plan satisfies international criteria and that it would have a "negligible" impact on the environment if it were implemented.

The authorities have committed to keeping a high level of transparency while also assuring that the radiation levels in the ocean would be regularly monitored.

However, there are some people who are still skeptical in light of Tepco's track record. The firm has in the past been accused of not being transparent enough regarding the accident, which is something that it has now apologized for.

Even though it is regular procedure for nuclear reactors to dispose of treated water in the ocean, opponents have pointed out that the amount that is being released from Fukushima is on a scale that has never been seen before and is far larger.

Some researchers believe that there should be a greater emphasis placed on research into the potential effects that it might have on the seafloor and on marine life. Greenpeace, an organization that advocates for environmental protection, is likewise in favor of keeping the water contained within the tanks until more advanced methods of water treatment are developed.

The idea has caused coastal towns and fishermen in Japan a great deal of ire in particular. They are concerned that it will damage their ability to make a living because some frightened consumers will avoid purchasing fish from the area, which has not fully recovered economically since the tragedy that occurred in 2011.

According to the most recent polls, there is a significant gap in opinion regarding the subject among the general population of Japan, with just half of respondents backing the release of the water.

Keiko Kisei, a demonstrator in Tokyo, told Reuters on Thursday that she believes there should have been many other means... rather than dumping it into the water. "I think there should have been many other methods," she said.

"However, they made the decision to release the water and so cause problems for the rest of the world. It defies all reasonable expectations in every way.

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