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  • <W commentary> Release of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant approaching = South Korean government accepts, but opposition parties prepare for thorough resistance
<W commentary> Release of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant approaching = South Korean government accepts, but opposition parties prepare for thorough resistance
The Japanese Government has made arrangements to begin releasing treated water from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at the end of this month. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet separately with South Korean President Yoon Sok-yeol and US President Biden at a Japan-US-South Korea summit meeting scheduled for the 18th. After explaining to both leaders the safety of the treated water, its scientific basis and the measures to be taken after the release, and gaining their understanding, a meeting of relevant ministers will be held to decide on the timing of the release. Meanwhile, the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported that "the Yun administration's diplomatic power is likely to be tested again, as it is trying to use the South Korea-US-Japan summit as a venue to reinforce the legitimacy of the contaminated (treated) water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant".

In April 2021, the Japanese government made a cabinet decision on the plan to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. At the time, the South Korean government criticized the decision, saying, "It is regrettable that the Japanese side made a unilateral decision."

At the Japan-South Korea Summit Meeting held in May, Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon dispatched an inspection team of South Korean experts to Japan to inspect the site. agreed. Based on this, South Korea organized an inspection team consisting of a total of 21 people, including nuclear power and radiation experts, and came to Japan in May. They visited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and checked the equipment used to dilute the treated water, the equipment used to release it into the sea, and the facility to analyze the radioactive substances contained in the treated water. He also held meetings with officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

On the 4th of last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a comprehensive report on its release plan. It concluded that "Japan's approach to release is in line with international safety standards." Immediately after that, the South Korean government also announced its own verification results, and indicated a certain understanding that the release plan "confirmed that it meets international standards such as the IAEA."

At the Japan-South Korea summit meeting held in Lithuania on the 12th of last month (local time), Prime Minister Kishida once again explained the release plan to President Yoon. He said that he is committed to safety and that there will be no adverse effects on health or the environment. He also explained that if the concentration of radioactive substances in the treated water exceeds the standard value, the release will be suspended. President Yoon conveyed the Korean government's position that it respects the IAEA report issued earlier.

On the other hand, South Korea's largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Korea, which has consistently strongly opposed the release plan, criticized the content of the meeting. Lee Seo Yeon, a spokesperson for the ruling party, said, "The significance of this South Korea-Japan summit is that Prime Minister Kishida has in effect received consent from President Yoon for the release of contaminated (treated) water from the nuclear power plant into the ocean."

Regarding the timing of the release, Prime Minister Kishida said on the 7th, "There is no change to the point that we said we would expect the release to be around spring or summer. We are continuing to provide detailed explanations both at home and abroad." Various media in Japan are reporting that the Japanese government has entered into coordination to determine the timing of the release after the summit talks with the United States and South Korea on the 18th of this month. Prime Minister Kishida hopes to gain understanding about the release through talks. On the other hand, the South Korean government explained that it had not made prior arrangements to discuss the release plan at the summit. In addition, the Chosun Ilbo said on the 8th that while the diplomatic authorities of Japan, the United States and South Korea were adjusting the content of the joint statement to be announced at the summit meeting, Japan demanded that instructions for the release be included, and negotiations were difficult. However, officials from the South Korean presidential office also denied this. He emphasized that there is no fact that the Japanese side has requested it.

In an editorial dated August 9th, the Hankyoreh Shimbun said, "Amidst voices against the release from within Japan and the international community, [the Japanese government] intends to justify the release with the 'agreement' of South Korea and the United States." In response, the South Korean government must show a clear position and attitude so as not to become a 'facilitator of the release of contaminated (treated) water.'

Lee Jae-myung, leader of the Minjoo Party, also announced on the 8th that he would "mobilize all of our strengths to stop the discharge of nuclear-contaminated (treated) water, which is clearly going to cause great damage to future generations in the long term." The time has come," he stressed. He showed a stance of complete resistance.

After the Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit, Prime Minister Kishida will hold a meeting of related ministers to finalize the timing of the release. It is estimated that more than a week will be required from the time the date is decided until the actual release into the ocean due to preparatory work and publicity.

Published : 2023/08/14 12:39 KST

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