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EDITORIAL | Japanese Opposition Lawmakers Aid China's Lies About Treated Water

Like China, some opposition lawmakers in Japan use falsehoods to criticize the treated water release, increasing reputational damages to Japanese fishermen.



An aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which started releasing treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan August 24, 2023. (©Kyodo/via REUTERS)

On September 8, the Japanese Diet held a closed-door review of the discharge of treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. There is scientific verification of the safety of treated water discharge. Nonetheless, some Japanese opposition lawmakers and the Chinese government label it as "radioactive contaminated water." 

The water has been treated using the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS. This removes radioactive impurities before its release.

Meanwhile, China has been trying to drum up condemnation of Japan in the rest of the world. Beijing has even banned imports of perfectly safe Japanese seafood. 

These actions are unfair. Moreover, they increase reputational damage to Japanese fishermen and producers. China's behavior is totally unacceptable. 

Fishermen unload their catch Matsukawaura Fishing Port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture on the afternoon of September 1. (©Kyodo)

Correcting the Record

Speaking out for Japan is among the most important duties of Japan's political parties and members of the Diet. That means speaking out to rebut countries and other forces that spread false rumors about Japan. Japan's politicians also have a responsibility to force those bad actors to retract anti-Japan propaganda.

It is extremely unfortunate that there are political parties and Diet members today who are failing to fulfill their duty in that regard.

Appropriately, during the closed session, members of each party voiced support for fishermen and others working in the marine products sector. The issue was what comes next.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) contends that the government should adopt a strong posture in regard to China's reckless behavior. It also demands that a complaint be filed with the World Trade Organization regarding China's unjustified embargo on the import of Japanese seafood. 

Furthermore, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) has adopted a similar stance. And the Komeito too has criticized China for pushing its own "justification" that lacks any scientific basis.

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) member Noriko Ishigaki's homepage.

Alarming Opposition Positions

What should alarm us are the stances adopted by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and the Japan Communist Party (JCP).

During the closed-session review, Akira Nagatsuma, chairman of the CDP's Policy Research Committee, also urged the Japanese government to do what is necessary to get China to withdraw its embargo.


That is all well and good, but it leaves the CDP with a serious problem. It is not responding forcefully to the words and actions of party members who are spreading false rumors.

Take, for example, Noriko Ishigaki, an Upper House member of the CDP. She has called the treated water "contaminated water" and called for an end to its release. 

Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) member Tomoko Abe's homepage.

Furthermore, there is the case of Tomoko Abe, a member of the House of Representatives, and several other CDP members. In July, these members joined the South Korean opposition party in issuing a joint statement opposing the release. Diet members belonging to the Reiwa Shinsengumi and Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shaminto parties also signed the statement. 

It is irresponsible for a political party not to strictly discipline and guide its Diet members who spread rumors that harm Fukushima. Why doesn't the CDP stand up and tell the nation and the world that releasing the treated water into the sea is perfectly safe? 

Japan Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii in a party promotional poster.

JCP Mirroring China

The JCP is in a category of its own. In August, Kazuo Shii, the chairman of the party, issued a statement stating, "If the discharge of contaminated water (ALPS-processed water) into the ocean is forced through, it will become a serious obstacle to the recovery of the Fukushima area."

During the closed-door review, Shii also repeatedly demanded a stop to the release of the water. That position mirrors China's unjustified argument.

Political parties and parliamentarians should never forget that it is their duty to protect the Japanese people and the national interest.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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