Connect with us

Economy & Tech

EDITORIAL | In Fukushima, Disinformation Still a Key Hurdle in Treated Water Release

As it starts releasing treated water from Fukushima, as approved by international experts, Japan must make good use of its ¥80-billion anti-disinformation fund.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and relevant ministers in his Cabinet discuss the plan for releasing treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. (© Sankei by Yasuhiro Yajima)

Kishida Cabinet officials met on August 22 to discuss the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They decided to begin discharging treated water into the ocean from the earthquake-damaged site on August 24.

Now, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida must thoroughly explain both domestically and internationally that the plan is perfectly safe. He must furthermore take all possible measures to prevent harmful rumors from gaining acceptance. 

At the same time, from the viewpoint of preventing reputational damage, hopefully, the government will deal firmly with specious arguments and false information that have no scientific basis.

Water tanks dominate the premises at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. (©  TEPCO)

What Prompted the Treated Water Discharge Plan

The discharge of treated water into the ocean is part of the decommissioning process of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It will continue for decades. This decommissioning process should proceed at an appropriate and steady pace. And that includes the discharge of the treated water, which is expected to take about 30 years to complete. 

Without such steps, the Kishida administration's plans for the reconstruction of the Fukushima region cannot be achieved. Moreover, Japan's energy needs will never be met without the utilization of nuclear power plants. Therefore, the Japanese government itself should take responsibility for the treated water release. It must not just expect TEPCO to take care of everything.

A Tokyo Electric Power Company representative briefs the press in front of a treated water discharge facility at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On June 26. (© Kyodo).

How it Works

So, what is the treated water being released? It is what remains after radioactive substances are removed from water that was contaminated after the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was disabled. The only radioactive substance remaining is tritium. And in principle, tritium cannot be removed. 

Tritium is a substance that is found in nature. Nevertheless, the level of radiation in the water being released has been drastically reduced.

Furthermore, the water is diluted with seawater to less than 1/40th of the effluent standard for radiation. That is before it is discharged from an undersea tunnel about one kilometer offshore. 

The process has been researched and tested. And there are no safety concerns whatsoever.

What is the Urgency?

The amount of treated water stored onsite at Fukushima Daiichi exceeds 1.3 million tons. Additionally, the more than 1,000 storage tanks on the site are projected to be full by the first half of 2024. 

The offshore discharge is also intended to gradually reduce the number of tanks. As it does so, it will make available sufficient space for full-scale decommissioning operations to take place. 


The ocean discharge of wastewater containing tritium is widely practiced around the world. And, in this case as well, discharge should be considered a normal measure. 

Also, a July report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the proposed release and related issues, termed the release "consistent" with international safety standards. The IAEA will continue to monitor the release. Hopefully, that will help dispel the concerns of the international community.

IAEA Director-General Grossi (right) visits the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and feeds flounder flounder that are being bred on a trial basis in a tank filled with treated water on the afternoon of July 5, 2023. (© Kyodo)

Damage from Unfounded Rumors

Prime Minister Kishida met with Masanobu Sakamoto, chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, and others on March 21 on the eve of the final decision to release the treated water, and once again sought their understanding.

The prime minister declared that "the government will take full responsibility and take necessary measures" over the decades until Fukushima Daiichi is fully decommissioned. We trust that the government will fulfill this commitment in good faith.

Nonetheless, fishermen are rightly concerned about reputational damage caused by rumor-mongering. The government has created a fund totaling 80 billion JPY ($552 million USD). Its purpose is to mitigate the adverse impact of such rumors on Japanese marine products and related foods.

This fund should be administered in such a way that it is easy for businesses to use. Consideration should also be given to replenishing the fund as needed. Small businesses also must be adequately informed regarding how to access and use the fund.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

Our Partners