Japan’s decision to dump radioactive Fukushima water into sea met with fierce reactions from locals

Mixed reactions.

Julia Yeo | April 20, 2021, 06:44 PM

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Japan has announced that it will dispose more than a million tonnes of treated radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

On Apr. 13, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga formalised the government's decision to release the contaminated water into the sea, saying that it was the "most realistic" option.

The announcement was met with strong backlash from Japan's neighbouring countries including China and South Korea, which expressed their concerns over safety issues.

However, the Japanese government has determined that the water poses no safety concerns, according to Kyodo News.

Domestic reactions

Domestically, the announcement was received with mixed reactions.

Opposition from fishermen

The decision has been met with strong opposition from the local fishing industry, with fishermen worried about the loss of livelihoods if the water from the nuclear plants were emptied into the Pacific Ocean.

"Consumers will be anxious. We still don't know what kind of impact we will have from the release," one fisherman told Nippon TV.

Tetsu Nozaki, the head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, strongly opposed the government's decision as well.

"We are taken aback by this decision," Nozaki said. "As fishermen of Fukushima Prefecture, we reiterate our opposition to the release of treated water into the sea."

Backlash on social media

Many Japanese social media users also spoke up against the government's decision to release the contaminated water into the sea.

One user pointed out that in 2020, a United Nations (UN) expert had urged Japan to delay "any decision on the ocean-dumping of nuclear waste water".

The UN statement said that the Japanese government's short extension for public consultation was "grossly insufficient", not to mention that the Covid-19 pandemic had limited opportunities for input from various affected communities in Japan, and those in neighbouring countries.

"This has been completely ignored by the Suga administration," the user said.

Another Twitter user said that they should treat it "till it's like deonised water" before they even discuss the matter.


"If you ask me, as someone who works in the semiconductor business, treated water, tap water and mineral water, they are all contaminated water.

At least treat it till it's like deionised water before we even talk about this."

A video and an anthropomorphic mascot featured by the Japan's Reconstruction Agency to reassure citizens that water containing tritium poses little health risks also received strong backlash from the public.

Materials featuring the tritium isotope mascot were removed from the agency's website after backlash by local residents, reported NHK World.

Some users supported government's move

However, some netizens agreed with the Japanese government's stance that it was safe to dispose of the contaminated water by releasing it into the sea.

Ryusho Kadota, an author and journalist, argued in a tweet that tritium "exists in large quantities in nature", and will be excreted by the body when consumed rather than accumulated.

He added that nuclear plants in other countries also dilute and release nuclear wastewater in large quantities into the ocean, and that the Fukushima nuclear plant will dilute the concentration to 1/40 of the national standard.

Kabota argued that the media was touting the water as "contaminated nuclear water", and was damaging "national interests" for reporting it as such.

Another user criticised a media broadcaster for calling the water "treated contaminated water", saying that "there is no cure for idiocy".


"If you call it 'treated contaminated water' even after the contaminated water has been cleaned, no matter how much Kinpira (the presenter) studies and becomes smarter, he should always be called a 'smart idiot'.

Let's call it as it is -- there's no cure for idiocy."

Release of water will take place in about two years

International media reports stated that the first release of the contaminated water will take place in about two years.

This allows plant operator Tokyo Electric Power time to begin filtering the water to remove harmful isotopes, build infrastructure and acquire regulatory approval.

The entire disposal process is expected to take around 30 to 40 years to complete.

The process has met international standards and has been backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kyodo News reported.

The U.S. has also expressed its support of Japan's decision and said that it looks forward to Japan's coordination with IAEA.

On the other hand, China has responded strongly against the matter.

Top image via Nippon TV/YouTube, Wikipedia