The fishery industry in Japan rapped the discharge of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex into the sea starting Thursday, as a high-handed decision rammed through despite their opposition, while consumers urged the government to give a more detailed explanation of the safety measures in place.
“The government’s decision, which ignored fishermen’s persistent opposition, is ridiculous,” said Seiji Oi, chairman of a fisheries cooperative association in Iwate Prefecture near Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster is located.
The National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations said in a joint statement with a local group in Miyagi Prefecture, which neighbors Fukushima, “Our opposition to the discharge has not changed a bit.”
Yasuo Kumakami, who cultivates seaweed in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, was disappointed, saying that “The matter is out of our hands now that the discharge has started.”
At Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, Yasuhiro Yamazaki, president of wholesaler Yamaharu Co., which exports sea urchins and young yellowtail, complained that business is already being affected.
He said several overseas customers have suspended transactions with his company since Wednesday due to “worries about the response of (local) authorities” of importing countries.
The loss of business amounted to several million yen. “Will the government compensate? I want the government to explain,” he said.
Consumers in Japan, meanwhile, called for a more detailed government explanation on the safety of the discharge of the water, which was used to cool highly radioactive melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima plant.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., treated the water through an advanced liquid processing system capable of removing most radionuclides, except tritium.
Kunimitsu Hoshi, who was at a market in Sendai, Miyagi, to buy young yellowtail caught locally said, “The government should try everything to ensure overseas (countries and regions) understand the safety of the discharge.”
Hoshi was referring to concerns raised by countries such as China, which on Thursday suspended imports of all seafood products from Japan, citing the risk of radiation contamination.
At Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo, a marketplace popular with tourists, a 20-year-old woman from Hong Kong said she enjoyed the tuna sashimi she had eaten.
“I love Japanese sushi. Maybe I am too young and have not given much thought, but I don’t feel I am in danger.”
She said she hopes the Japanese government will continue to provide accurate information about the water discharge.
Yasuo Yoshida, a fisherman in Iwaki, located around 30 kilometers south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said he is “emotionally” prepared.
“All we can do from tomorrow onward is to fish and bring them to the market,” the 56-year-old said.
Yoshida said he was worried as the price of fish shipped from Fukushima Prefecture and nearby areas had already started to drop in other prefectures, possibly due to reputational damage.
“The government and TEPCO have not given us any concrete plans in the end. Will they really compensate us?” he said.
Source : Kyodo News