China on Tuesday summoned Japan’s ambassador to Beijing, following Tokyo’s announcement of its intention to discharge water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, starting on Thursday.
“Deputy Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japan’s ambassador to China, Hideo Tarumi, to make a solemn statement to him, after Tokyo announced that it will start discharging water from the affected Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean this week,” according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Following the announcement of the start of operations this week, Pequim accused Japan on Tuesday of arbitrarily discharging contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.
“The ocean is the property of all mankind, it is not a place where Japan can arbitrarily discharge contaminated water,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press conference.
“The Chinese government insists that people come first and will continue to take all measures whatever it deems necessary to safeguard the food safety and health of Chinese citizens,” added Wang Wenbin.
“We ask Japan to abandon this plan“, reiterated the Chinese spokesman, in the last appeal to Tokyo to give up an initiative that, according to Beijing, “raised multiple concerns in the international community”.
Tokyo announced this Tuesday the date of the first flush of water, about three monthss after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the Japanese plan complies with the standards defined for this type of case.
However, Japan’s plan has sparked unease in neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, which as early as July urged Tokyo not to go ahead with the discharges.
The release of water, which should start from Thursday, begins almost 12 and a half years after the nuclear meltdown in March 2011, caused by a strong earthquake and tsunami.
Chinese authorities have also stated that they will maintain a “high degree of surveillance” on food imports from Japan.
Since 2011, China has maintained a ban on food imports from a dozen of the 47 provinces that make up the island nationincluding Fukushima, and rigorously reviews all documentation for food products arriving from other parts of Japan, especially for food of aquatic origin.
Although several countries have lifted many of their restrictions in recent years, China only in 2018 resumed importing rice from the Japanese province of Niigata.
The chief executive of Hong Kong, John Lee, assured this Tuesday that the discharge is “irresponsible” e “risky“.
The official asked the government departments of that Chinese special administrative region to impose controls on products of aquatic origin from Japan, to “ensure food safety and health” of the population.