State media ridicules US over Fukushima wastewater debate

Following criticisms of Beijing’s ban on Japanese seafood imports, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily has called out the US for hypocrisy in its support for Japan’s plans to release radioactive wastewater into the ocean.

On August 25, the People’s Daily reported via its official Weibo account that the US reduced Japanese seafood imports more than any other country this year (based on data from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture). The attached video shows Anthony Blinken calling the plans “safe and in accordance with national standards” followed by data suggesting the US has reduced imports of some seafood products with supply chains linked to Fukushima.

The accompanying hashtag, “America supports Fukushima ocean discharge at the same time as reducing imports”, has drawn in well over 300 million views in under 24 hours, with netizens piling on sarcastic jabs at both China and Japan. One top comment with 30,000 likes read, “If the US and Japan were not in this world, everyone could live in peace and contentment”.  

The UN atomic watchdog has approved the discharge plan, which will see 1 million metric tonnes of radioactive wastewater released into the Pacific Ocean over the next 30 to 40 years. The discharge began on Thursday with an online countdown and live video showing engineers opening the valves to the seawater transport pumps.

Beijing’s resulting decision to ban seafood imports from Japan has been called into question as scientists point out China also releases tritium from its own nuclear plants, in some cases in greater volumes than at the Fukushima Dashaii plant. Some have even suggested that China’s stance on the issue was intended to stoke anti-Japan sentiment.

Besides China’s opposition, the discharge plan has also drawn criticism from fishing communities and some scientists. Shaun Bernie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace East Asia, called Japan’s solution an “outrage that violates the human rights of the people and communities of Fukushima”. Meanwhile, local fishers fear reputational damage will destroy their livelihoods, whether the discharge is actually safe or not.


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