December 11, 2023

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Japan says China’s harassment over Fukushima waters ‘extremely regrettable’

Japan says China’s harassment over Fukushima waters ‘extremely regrettable’

A view of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after it began releasing treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, as seen from the nearby fishing port of Okido in the town of Nami, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, August 25, 2023. REUTERS/Tom Bateman/File photo Obtain licensing rights

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan said on Monday it had received several harassing phone calls in the country, most likely from China, about the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Pacific Ocean, calling it “extremely unfortunate”. “.

Japan began draining water on Thursday in a major step towards decommissioning the Fukushima plant, which suffered triple collapses after it was hit by a tsunami in 2011 following a powerful earthquake. “China firmly opposes their release,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary and chief government spokesperson, in press statements. Regular press conference.

Japan’s foreign ministry said such calls prompted Deputy Foreign Minister Masataka Okano to summon the Chinese ambassador.

These calls also occur at Japanese facilities in China, the ministry said in a statement, urging the government to immediately take appropriate measures and ensure the safety of Japanese citizens.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A city official said the Fukushima City Council began receiving calls with the country code 86, which is designated for China, on Thursday, and the number of such calls exceeded 200 the next day, flooding phone lines and disrupting the normal work of city employees.

On the same day, he added, primary and middle schools in the city, located 60 km northwest of the idled factory, received 65 similar calls.

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When a person who understands Chinese received one of those calls, the official said, the caller made a comment: “Why are you releasing polluted waters into the Pacific Ocean, which is a sea for everyone?”

Local media said other municipalities, hotels and restaurants have also received such calls since the day the water began to be discharged.

In China, a stone was thrown at a Japanese school in the coastal city of Qingdao on Thursday, according to the Consulate General of Japan in the city.

“We have been talking to the city police continuously since this incident happened regarding security concerns,” the consulate general told Reuters on Monday.

The Fukushima plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (T9501.T) (Tepco), filters the contaminated water to remove the isotope, leaving only tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate.

TEPCO dilutes the water until tritium levels fall below regulatory limits before pumping it into the sea.

However, China said the Japanese government had not proven that the water being discharged would be safe, and issued a blanket ban on all aquatic products coming from Japan hours after Tokyo went ahead with its release.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo and Martin Pollard in Beijing; Reporting by Mohamed for The Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Mark Heinrichs and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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Martin is a political and general news (Chinese) correspondent based in Beijing. He previously worked as a TV reporter and video journalist and is fluent in Mandarin and French.

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