Protesters hold placards with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi outside the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong on August 24 to protest against the discharge of treated Fukushima radioactive wastewater . 2023.
Credit: AP Photo/Daniel Ceng
Japan has begun to discharge radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, a decision that was quickly echoed by all parties Protests and Seafood Bans. The decision sparked controversy over the potential environmental and health impacts of radioactive wastewater, which mainly contains radioactive tritium.
Proponents of the plan argue that the tritiated water would be carefully diluted in the ocean, raising water levels. Below all safety limits.Critics warn that radionuclides could shift from the bottom of the food web to the top, leading to bioaccumulation, the process by which pollutants concentrate and self-amplify.
Although the debate surrounding this issue is raging Tritium dangerIt is fair to say that the decision to discharge wastewater will hurt Japan symbolically. It will do so by creating anxiety about food safety, undermining citizens’ trust in their government and heightening geopolitical tensions with their Asian neighbors.
First, the release of the product will damage Fukushima’s image, especially its food. For more than a decade, the Japanese government has been working to revitalize the Fukushima region, which was devastated by the nuclear disaster. To help people rebuild their lives, the Japanese government has launched official recovery efforts in Fukushima, investing trillions of yen to clean and decontaminate the area before repatriating evacuees, while promoting tourism in a public relations campaign.
In Fukushima, food production has been particularly affected by the nuclear disaster. State officials complain about what they call “harmful rumours” persisting (Beyond the wind and ice) around radiation risks, which has led consumers to avoid buying foods produced in the area. To reduce reputational damage, the Japanese government instituted regulatory standards and regular testing for radioactive contamination of food, while requiring people to consume Fukushima products through a series of food fairs.
Therefore, the decision to discharge the wastewater appears to be at odds with the government’s efforts to revitalize the area. It faces strong opposition from the Japanese fishing industry. Fishermen are concerned that the discharge of wastewater will drive away consumers and damage a business they have been trying to restore since 2011. On a wider scale, the discharge of wastewater will have a negative impact on Japan’s international image, especially as a country that has successfully built sushi and sushi brands. Seafood products are a staple of their traditional culture.
Second, the discharge of wastewater could increase citizens’ distrust of government, which has been faltering since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In fact, prior to 2011, Japanese society considered nuclear catastrophe impossible, and few citizens had reason to doubt a country that repeatedly assured its citizens that nuclear power was inherently safe. The nuclear catastrophe was later described as “beyond assumptions” (Xiangting Street), completely broke the nuclear “safety myth” (Anshan myth) prevailed in Japan.
It also shows that the government is not prepared to deal with the consequences of a nuclear disaster. After the disaster, many citizens were unable to obtain specific information about radiation in time. They face confusion due to poor communication of risks around evacuation orders and radiation-related indicators, while having to self-assess radiation hazards amid conflicting international assessments. Many citizens feel betrayed and abandoned, losing trust in government officials and state experts.
The legacy of this distrust persists to this day and is fused with Japan’s decision to release Fukushima’s wastewater. In this regard, many citizens wonder whether a country that failed to predict the Fukushima nuclear disaster can now provide safety assurances during wastewater discharges. The plan will further fuel mistrust by portraying Japan as a country that has opted for the cheapest option of “dumping” its wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.
Third, Japan’s decision to release radioactive water will heighten geopolitical tensions with its Asian neighbors, especially South Korea and China.Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, countries such as South Korea and China have banned Fish imported from the Fukushima region of Japan, leading to a sharp reduction in Japanese products.When Japan was chosen to host the 2020 Olympics, radiation concerns resurfaced as various civic groups and politicians wanted to boycott the games because Radiation Safety Issues.
Similar diplomatic tensions have arisen over Japan’s waste water discharge.Although the South Korean government has officially guaranteed Security of the Japanese Planthe South Korean public is much less sympathetic, civil protest It has been increasing over the past few days. Will the South Korean government bow to popular pressure? It remains to be seen.For its part, the Chinese government’s voice was more vocal, immediately Import of Japanese Seafood Products Banned when waste water is discharged.
These diplomatic tensions are not particularly surprising when we consider the history of these countries’ relations.Korea was once a colony of the Japanese Empire, Japan-Korea relations haunted by the scars of the pastFor example, the “comfort women” issue, Korean girls were forced to become sex slaves during World War II. China also suffered atrocities from the Japanese military in the first half of the 20th century, and currently has a territorial dispute with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. These historical tensions remain high and are compounded by current nuclear-related tensions.
In the future, we expect wastewater issues to be addressed strategically to meet geopolitical needs. Indeed, wastewater discharges have provided political ammunition for Japan’s opponents, as evidenced by China’s eagerness to highlight the issue.