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EDITORIAL | IAEA Survey is China's Cue to Stop Lying About Japan's Treated Water

New testing by the IAEA involves laboratories from Canada, China, and South Korea, aiming to settle remaining concerns about Fukushima's treated water release.



General Assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), September 25, 2023, in Vienna. (©Kyodo)

Japan continues to seek to build international confidence in the safety of the discharge of treated water into the ocean from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is conducting a scientific survey in seas near that facility for about a week from October 16. Survey items include radiation levels in the seawater, seabed soil, and marine life. 

The phased release of the treated water began at the end of August and a second round is currently underway. As with the first round of discharge, 7,800 tons of wastewater over 17 days will be carried one kilometer offshore through an undersea tunnel.

The Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) was used at Fukushima Daiichi to remove most of the radioactive elements from the water. It leaves only tritium, which emits extremely weak radiation, in the treated water. The release is being conducted in line with international safety standards. It is not expected to have any impact on the environment.


China's Reprehensible Behavior

Despite that fact, the Chinese government continues to refer to the treated water as "radioactively contaminated water." It has been pursuing a smear campaign that ignores the facts. 

China imposed an unjustified total embargo of scallops and other Japanese marine products at the time of the initial release. That ban continues to this day. Furthermore, many harassing phone calls have been made to Japan in Chinese.

We would note that the first IAEA study conducted after the release has introduced the "interlaboratory comparison method." Under this approach, samples of fish and other materials collected in collaboration with Japan are analyzed separately by the IAEA and Japanese analytical laboratories. Then the results are cross-checked to ensure objectivity. 

Members of the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories are carrying out the testing. In addition, experts from analytical laboratories in Canada, China, and South Korea selected by the IAEA are participating in this survey from the stage when samples are collected offshore from Fukushima Daiichi.

Measurements Consistently Establish Safety

Since the first release, TEPCO, the Fisheries Agency, and others have been measuring tritium levels in seawater and flounder (hirame). The results have consistently been below established detection limits. They are a far cry from what China claims in its anti-Japan and unscientific criticisms. 

IAEA Director General Grossi feeds flounder in a tank with treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in July 2023. (Pool photograph)

The Japanese government's previous explanations to foreign parties have led many countries around the world to agree that there is no problem with discharging treated wastewater into the ocean. No doubt the correctness of Japan's claims will be backed up by the IAEA's "interlaboratory comparison method." Doesn't this provide China with the perfect opportunity to roll back some of the loaded rhetoric it has indulged in? 

Next IAEA Evaluation Mission

Another IAEA mission regarding the discharge of treated water will visit Japan on October 24. It will exchange opinions with relevant ministries and agencies to lay the groundwork for an overall evaluation of the discharge plan. 


The government must do its utmost to actively disseminate reliable information to the international community. The offshore discharge is an integral part of the reactor decommissioning process. It is a long-term project that will continue for the next 30 years or so.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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