Members of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives stage a rally to denounce the Japanese government's decision to release water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. Photo: AP/Ahn Young-joon
politics

S Korea aims to fight Japan's Fukushima decision at world tribunal

19 Comments
By Hyonhee Shin

South Korea's president ordered officials on Wednesday to explore petitioning an international court over Japan's decision to release contaminated water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, amid protests by fisheries and environmental groups.

According to plans unveiled by Japan on Tuesday, the release of more than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea from the plant crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 will start in about two years after filtering it to remove harmful isotopes.

The plan drew immediate opposition from its neighbors South Korea, China and Taiwan.

South Korea strongly protested against the decision, summoning Koichi Aiboshi, Tokyo's ambassador in Seoul, and convening an intra-agency emergency meeting to craft its response.

President Moon Jae-in said officials should look into ways to refer Japan's move to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, including filing for an injunction, his spokesman Kang Min-seok told a briefing.

Moon also expressed concerns about Japan's plans as Aiboshi presented his credentials. Japan's ambassador arrived in South Korea in February to take up his post.

"I cannot but say that there are many concerns here about the decision as a country that is geologically closest and shares the sea with Japan," Moon said, asking Aiboshi to convey such worries to Tokyo, according to Kang.

South Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying it had raised similar concerns with Washington, after the State Department said Japan's decision was "transparent" and in line with global safety standards.

The ministry also said it shared "strong regret and serious concerns" about the water's planned release at a video conference on Wednesday with Chinese officials on maritime issues.

A series of protests against the move by politicians, local officials, fishermen and environmental activists took place in South Korea on Wednesday, including in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and consulates in the port city of Busan and on Jeju island.

A coalition of 25 fisheries organisations staged a rally and delivered a written protest to the embassy, urging Tokyo to revoke the decision and Seoul to ban imports of Japanese seafood.

"Our industry is on course to suffer annihilating damage, just with people's concerns about a possible radioactive contamination of marine products," it said in a statement.

The progressive minor opposition Justice Party and some 30 anti-nuclear and environmental groups called Japan's move "nuclear terrorism," and said they sent the Japanese embassy a list of signatures of more than 64,000 people opposed to the move collected from 86 countries since February.

The Chinese foreign ministry warned on Wednesday that Japan's decision will set a precedent for disposal of waste water.

"The ocean is not Japan's rubbish bin, the Pacific Ocean is not Japan's sewers," said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular media briefing in Beijing.

"Japan should not let the whole world pay for how it manages its nuclear waste water."

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Very rarely do I agree with anything South Korean government does - but I do here

-19 ( +5 / -24 )

Clever South Koreans. They want to bring a case to the  International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. rather than the International Court of Justice. The latter would force South Korea to recognize and abide by ICJ rulings so Japan will be on them over the Liancourt Rocks dispute in a flash. South Korea also disharges nuclear waste water into the sea, but the term "hypocrisy" doesn't exist in hangul. The Tritium amounts are lower than the IAEA standard but they will never pass up a chance to make a big anti-Japan political show out of it.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

This is purely for political gain by Moon. It is a fact that South Korea (and China) dumps nuclear waste in the sea. Therefore, Japan should be allowed to do the same. The water Japan is dumping has negligible amounts of radioactive trace elements, far, far safer than the legal levels of drinking water.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

The Tritium amounts are lower than the IAEA standard but they will never pass up a chance to make a big anti-Japan political show out of it.

and they also dump waste water into the ocean.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

The whole world should be condemning the Japanese government over this.

And I say this as someone who adores this wonderful country and its people. I get the feeling that the govt does not adore either.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Just another flimsy "excuse" for the Koreans to bash the Japanese.

When will they wake up and realize that it's time for them to move on???

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Who actually believes there is 'only a little harmless tritium in the water?' Give me a break.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

I wonder how they prove that the diluted water from Fukushima would actually affect Korean public health. Is the SK also going to sue the IAEA and the US who have given Japan a green light?

SK nuclear powerplants have been dumping tons of spent water into the Sea of Japan. They have been doing so in a regular basis, and the annual amount is nearly as half as that of Fukushima total water to discharge. Japan may even counter-sue the SK over possible health hazard (though it's highly unlikely as the people are more reasonable and science-literate).

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Who actually believes there is 'only a little harmless tritium in the water?' Give me a break.

The water is 100 percent harmless. Just about all drinking water around the world would be more harmful. These protests from the usual suspects are just for domestic political points.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

The water is 100 percent harmless.

Actually, Uranium breaks down into over 50 different isotopes. ALPS doesn't collect all. Experts have found that the majority of ALPS treated radioactive water has Strontium, Cesium reduced to 70%. Before releasing, 1,000,000 tones of highly radioactive water must go through a second process.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Don't have much else to add to those above who correctly pointed out the utter hypocrisy of some of these grandstanding South Koreans and their duplicitous ways,

If it's not deadly radioactive water, it's comfort women or Dokdo rocks they'll be complaining about to the world.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Fighto!Today 11:04 am JST

The water is 100 percent harmless. Just about all drinking water around the world would be more harmful. These protests from the usual suspects are just for domestic political points.

I wouldn't try though: https://www.dw.com/en/north-south-korea-oppose-japans-plan-to-release-radioactive-fukushima-water/a-50400161

"A study by the regional Kahoko Shinpo newspaper confirmed that levels of iodine 129 and ruthenium 106 exceeded acceptable levels in 45 out of 84 samples in calendar 2017. Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid. Ruthenium 106 is produced by nuclear fission and can be toxic in high doses while also being carcinogenic when ingested.

TEPCO later admitted that levels of strontium 90 were more than 90 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tons of water that had already been treated at the site."

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The Korean officials have submitted an analytic report the the Fukushima water release is not a problem on scientific grounds. An inconvenient truth exposed (friendly-fired?) by a Korean media outlet.

「日本の原発水、影響大きくない」 韓国政府TF、昨年報告書出していた

https://japanese.joins.com/JArticle/277662?sectcode=A10&servcode=A00

15 ( +18 / -3 )

West: Thanks for being transparent about your plans to release the water

China,SK: Japan is not being transparent about its plans to release the water.

They will complain about anything Japan does, so no use in even arguing.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Japan is in the wrong. Korea is correct. I don't see how Japan can be defended.

-18 ( +3 / -21 )

Here's what's going to be amusing. Japan and many wannabe-Japanese, will simply say SK has no right to say what Japan does, and it is not an issue for International courts. Then, when SKorea once again bans imports as a result, Japan will cry victim and demand it go to the ICJ and demand SKorea start imports again because it's "not fair!".

-18 ( +3 / -21 )

When will they wake up and realize that it's time for them to move on???

When Japan stops treating them like crap?

-18 ( +3 / -21 )

@smithinjapan

Here's what's going to be amusing.

Japan and many wannabe-Japanese, will simply say SK has no right to say what Japan does, and it is not an issue for International courts. Then, when SKorea once again bans imports as a result, Japan will cry victim and demand it go to the ICJ and demand SKorea start imports again because it's "not fair!".

When Japan removed South Korea from its whitelist, Koreans broke out in a mass boycott, refused to refuel Japanese cars, broke into the Japanese embassy, and threatened to pull out of GSOMIA. Hard to top that.

@Thomas Goodtime

When Japan stops treating them like crap?

Meanwhile, Koreans are indoctrinating their children to hate Japan, trying to put stickers in elementary school classrooms saying "This device was made by a war criminal”, harassing a US diplomat for having a moustache similar to a Japanese general's, drawing crayon pictures of Japan being nuked, and dissolving the comfort women fund started by Japan itself just so they can keep victimizing themselves. I grew up with my own parents constantly reminding me what Japan did as if it happened yesterday instead of seventy years ago.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

It doesn't matter what Korean parents tell their kids really. Japan behaved appallingly towards Korea and still does.

-18 ( +1 / -19 )

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