Fishermen concerned over IAEA saying Fukushima water release is safe

by Jul 5, 2023Featured Article, News

Local fishermen expressed their concern on Tuesday over the implications of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s affirmation that Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea is safe.

“I’m extremely worried as I don’t know to what extent the release of the treated water will affect my work and livelihood,” said Eitatsu Kikuchi, a fisherman preparing his boat in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Kikuchi, 30, added, “No matter how much we try, we cannot prevent the Fukushima brand from being tarnished.”

Concerns linger about the potential reputational damage to their products, especially after the IAEA report.

The IAEA concluded in its report released the same day that Japan’s water-discharge plan is “consistent” with international safety standards and would have “a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.”

The Japanese government aims to start discharging treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant this summer.

Keisuke Yamada, 33, who sells Fukushima-sourced seafood in Iwaki, said, “To be honest, I do not want the government to release the water.”

The nuclear disaster at the plant was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that severely impacted Fukushima and the neighboring prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate.

Fisheries cooperatives in the three prefectures said they will submit a petition later this week to the central government and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. expressing their opposition to the planned release of the water.

The cooperatives from the three prefectures said they aim to turn in around 33,000 signatures on Friday.

On Tuesday, Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, clarified his remarks over the weekend concerning the water discharge plan.

He said Sunday that water should not be released during the swimming season.

However, during a press conference Tuesday, Yamaguchi explained that he intended to highlight the need for sufficient time to raise public awareness regarding the safety of the water discharge plan, especially considering that the swimming season commences in mid-July.

He also said the timing of the water release is a decision to be made by the government.