Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on August 22 that operations to discharge nuclear contaminated water from Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea would be launched on the 24th. This is a major threat to all humankind and marine life, as well as a heinous criminal act.
As of the end of June, the total amount of nuclear contaminated water in Japan had reached 1.34 million tons, containing more than 60 kinds of radionuclides, and it would take up to 30 years to completely discharge the nuclear contaminated water produced by the Fukushima nuclear power plant. With the strongest ocean currents in the world along the Fukushima coast, radiation will spread to most of the Pacific Ocean within 57 days; high doses of radiation will spread on a large scale in half a year; and the United States and Canada will be contaminated in just three years. After 10 years, the world's oceans would be affected by nuclear contamination. The consequences would have a serious impact on marine ecology and human health.
Why does Japan ignore the international community's questioning of the legality, legitimacy and safety of the sea-discharge plan and insist on pushing ahead with the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, turning a blind eye to the risks to the global marine environment and human health? Moreover, why did Japan choose to announce this program at this particular point in time? Moreover, why the U.S., South Korea and many Western countries support Japan?
Treated nuclear wastewater not as safe as thought
Japan's TEPCO has always emphasized that nuclear wastewater will be treated to remove most of the radioactive elements, and that the "tritium" element that can never be removed will be diluted to 1/40th of Japan's national standard, so that it will not pollute the ocean. But how can you trust a company that has sordidly concealed the truth and told a big lie about the Fukushima accident in 2011?
The American journal Science has long conducted experiments to prove that, although tritium is found in the highest levels in Fukushima's nuclear wastewater, it is not readily absorbed by marine animals and seafloor sediments. Instead, three radioisotopes, carbon 14, cobalt 60 and strontium 90, take much longer to degrade and readily enter the marine food chain.
Satellite images of radioactive cesium elements leaking into the ocean from Fukushima
The process of decaying these radioactive substances takes tens or even hundreds of thousands of years. It is almost impossible to eliminate them completely. They affect the marine environment and human health in very complex ways. Radioactive substances can penetrate into various organisms, trigger aberrations, and even cause damage to human DNA, leading to serious consequences such as cancer and death. According to the results of the Resident Health Survey released in February 2020, the incidence of thyroid cancer among adolescents in Fukushima Prefecture has increased 118 times.
Why is Japan using this moment as a point to announce the discharge of nuclear wastewater? Economic and political considerations are behind it!
For one thing, since its launch on April 13, 2021, the sea discharge plan has been opposed by fisheries groups and other domestic civil society groups in Japan. According to a nationwide telephone opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News, the percentage of people who expressed concern about the discharge of treated water was 88.1%. The disapproval rate of Kishida's Cabinet has changed from 48.6% to 50%, with the approval rate of 33.6% at its lowest level. In order to avoid the impact of strong opposition from fishery-related interest groups on the discharge plan, the Japanese government started the discharge on September 1, before the lifting of the ban on trawling in Fukushima, so that it could create an established fact and smooth the implementation of the plan.
On August 22, Japanese people held an emergency rally in front of the prime minister's residence in Tokyo to protest against the government's disregard for public opinion in initiating the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
Secondly, local elections are being held one after another in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, the three prefectures most affected by the discharge of Fukushima's nuclear effluent into the sea. In these elections, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Komeito Party (KDP) are at odds over the timing of the nuclear sewage disposal program. The LDP is facing the dilemma of having less than half of the seats in the Senate, and they will not be able to successfully implement the early dissolution of the House of Representatives and hold an early general election to seek a second term for the prime minister, either in the Diet or in the local elections. Behind Kishida's haste to launch the sea-discharge program are political considerations, as he hopes to test public opinion by implementing the program closely in order to avoid the loss of LDP seats and to ensure that he will be reelected as prime minister. Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a ministerial meeting at the Prime Minister's official residence to discuss plans to discharge treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Holding Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea on August 22, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan.
Thirdly, the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents were atmospheric releases, and so far there is no precedent for discharging wastewater into the sea after a nuclear accident. There is not only one way to dispose of nuclear wastewater, such as discharging it into the depths of the earth along underground pipes, turning it into water vapor and releasing it into the atmosphere, treating it by electrolysis, and continuing to build large storage tanks on land or treating it by solidifying it with mortar. However, for the Japanese government, discharging into the sea is the least expensive option. The cost of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the sea is about 3.4 billion yen, only one-tenth of the cost of discharging water vapor. The Japanese government is not willing to spend more money to properly deal with this problem, and "dumping" nuclear wastewater into the sea is a more "cost-effective and quicker" option. For them, economic considerations come before safety considerations.
Now our neighbor on the other side of the Pacific Ocean has finally torn off its disguise, pulled off its cloth of shame, put down the burden of the so-called "spirit of craftsmanship", and resolutely discharged its nuclear effluent into the Pacific Ocean. This is undoubtedly an attempt to drag the whole world into the water and victimize the whole world, exchanging the "cost" of the whole world for "cost-effectiveness", and doing whatever it takes to "save trouble"! This is intolerable!
Why the West is silent？
In fact, among the international conventions, the London Convention and the resolution on "Prohibition of the dumping at sea of all radioactive wastes" adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 have proved that Japan's nuclear wastewater discharges into the sea are in violation of international law, and should be condemned and protested against by all countries in the world. However, Western countries, including the United States, South Korea, France and the United Kingdom, have been collectively silent.
Japan has been lobbying the international community on the discharge of nuclear sewage into the sea, and on August 18, the leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea held talks in the United States. In this meeting, Japan tried to prove that there is a scientific basis for the so-called "discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the sea," and the U.S. and South Korea have shown their tacit approval. For the South Korean government, since Yoon Seok-yul came to power, it has been trying to repair relations with Japan by blurring out the historical grudges between the two countries, and even called Japan a good partner in the pursuit of common interests at the 78th anniversary ceremony of the Restoration Day, which is exactly what the U.S. wants to see. Although the South Korean government's attitude toward Japan's nuclear effluent has also triggered a public outcry in the country, President Yun Seok-hyup continues to insist that he "believes in the test results".
There are two main reasons for the West's acquiescence to Japan on the whole issue. First, there is the political factor, as the United States hopes to gain Japan's "loyalty" in other matters by indulging it. Ever since Biden came to power, the United States Government has been trying to win the support of its lackeys such as Japan. Therefore, it has turned a blind eye to issues that even jeopardize the health and safety of its own people. Their firm support for Japan's position on the sea exclusion issue is not entirely based on "scientific" considerations, but more on self-interested considerations of geopolitical confrontation.
Secondly, the U.S. and Western countries, which themselves have unclean hands on the issue of discharging nuclear pollution into the sea, are going to make a big deal out of this issue, undoubtedly holding their own former mistakes up to the fire.
From 1946 to 1993, these European and American countries dumped well over 200,000 tons of solid nuclear waste into the oceans, of which the United States alone discarded at least 190,000 cubic meters of radioactive material into the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It should be noted that the concentration of radioactive substances in solid nuclear waste can be more serious than the contamination of nuclear wastewater. Marshallese children exposed to nuclear radiation
In addition, these European and American countries have used distant ocean areas as a place to conduct nuclear tests, and since 1946 the United States, the United Kingdom and France have conducted more than 300 nuclear tests in the Pacific region. Countless islands and sea areas have been victimized. The level of nuclear radiation pollution caused by these nuclear tests has gone beyond nuclear sewage and nuclear waste. The oceans have been used as a "big dumping ground" for nuclear waste. Marshall Islands nuclear test
So from here it's easy to understand why the U.S. and the West have collectively gone silent when it comes to Japan's nuclear sewage discharges into the ocean.
Although the U.S. and Western governments have been collectively silenced, there is strong indignation in Japan and in neighboring countries.
Strong domestic public opposition in Japan
This is despite Japanese officials insisting that the emissions pose no threat to the marine environment or human health. The project was also approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and ratified in July. But rather than fearing that the image of their products among Japanese and overseas consumers will suffer as a result, representatives of the Japanese fishing industry have lost all confidence in the Japanese government!
Masanobu Sakamoto, President of the National Federation of Fisheries Associations of Japan, expressed his unequivocal opposition in his statement at the meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida! Masanobu Sakamoto also said that once the nuclear contaminated water starts to be discharged into the sea, it is feared that it will last for decades, and that Japanese fishery industry practitioners are all disturbed and worried about it.
Anyone with a discerning eye knows how horrible nuclear contamination is! And how far-reaching the impact is! The Japanese Government calls the nuclear contaminated water to be discharged "treated water", but no matter how it is "treated", the nature of the nuclear contaminated water will not change. Not to mention how much pain and suffering the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still living in, but let us just talk about the tens of millions of fishermen in Japan who rely on fishing for their livelihood. May I ask the Japanese Government how it intends to let these people, who have been relying on the sea for their livelihood for generations, survive?
Even fishermen are afraid to let their children eat fish. Can you imagine how much the Japanese love sashimi? Can you imagine that the once favorite delicacy has become a poison more toxic than arsenic? Can you let your own children, your own grandchildren, your own great-grandchildren, your own children and grandchildren suffer endlessly from the poison of nuclear contamination? Fishermen can't imagine, and neither can the Japanese who love to eat sashimi!
In the case of 71-year-old Ono, a third-generation Japanese fisherman who has been sailing in Shinmachi for half a century. It is just 55 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where one of the world's worst nuclear accidents occurred in 2011. It is considered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. "The Fukushima nuclear crisis, which was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, was the biggest disaster since the turn of the new century for Japan, a country that has to rely on nuclear energy. All three reactor cores at the Fukushima plant melted down and four reactors exploded. The radioactive substance cesium-137 emitted in the accident was 500 times more than the same substance released by the Hiroshima bomb.
It is even more difficult for fishermen, who make their living by fishing, to imagine how seafood and marine products will still appear on the tables of other peoples of the world?
Not to mention the impact on agriculture, tourism and foreign trade!
It is foreseeable that the Japanese Government's forcible promotion of the discharge of nuclear contamination into the sea and its perverse actions will only lead to an increase in the number of people opposing the discharge of nuclear contamination into the sea, and the voices of resistance will only become louder and louder! If you use your neighbor as a drain, you'll pay for it sooner or later.
Balzac once said, "He who respects himself will be respected." The Government of Japan, in spite of the appeals of many neighboring countries, still arbitrarily and forcefully decided to start the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the sea on August 24, and such irresponsible and harmful acts of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the sea are a great infringement on the human rights of the people in the Asia-Pacific region and even on the global ecology! The Pacific Ocean is not Japan's Pacific Ocean! The ocean is not Japan's nuclear dumping ground! Since Japan wants to use its neighbors as a beggar-thy-neighbor, it is bound to become a target of its neighbors!