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EDITORIAL | Ruckus Over Treated Water a Distraction from China's Own Woes 

China's nuclear plants release greater volumes of tritium than Japan's treated water, but mentions of that on Chinese social media are fast deleted by censors.



View from a helicopter of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant on the day release of treated water into the ocean began (©Kyodo)

Chinese nationals have engaged in a rash of anti-Japan activities recently. The Japan-bashing began on August 24. That is when the discharge of ALPS treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the ocean began. 

For example, several Japanese schools in China have been pelted with stones and eggs. In Fukushima Prefecture and other parts of Japan, public agencies and businesses have been deluged by phone calls from China. The callers have been aiming to protest and harass. 

Chinese social networking sites have also become filled with videos showing how to make unwanted calls to Japan. Others call for boycotts of Japanese goods. 

IAEA Director-General Grossi (left) attends the Fukushima Council meeting at Iwaki City to discuss the IAEA's efforts and also the safety of the treated water release on July 5, 2023. (Kyodo)

Irrational Claims Without Scientific Basis

Treated water is being released in a safe manner based on scientific evidence. There is not the slightest justification for such protests. Such despicable harassment originating from China must be halted immediately. 

On August 28, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Masataka Okano called in China's ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao to deliver a formal protest. On the same day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that it goes without saying that the anti-Japan actions are regrettable. 

Kishida also revealed that the government would announce support measures for Japanese fishery businesses by the end of the week. 

The Prime Minister should also forthrightly condemn the unscientific behavior of the Chinese government. And he should do the same for the other abuses taking place. Moreover, he should consider countermeasures to China's embargo on the imports of Japanese aquatic products. 

Aggressive demonstrators beat and destroy a Japanese car in Xian City, China (photographed by Takashi Kawai, in September 2012)

Travel Warnings

Japan's foreign ministry already has issued travel warnings for Japanese citizens traveling to China. 

In 2012, there was a frenzy of anti-Japanese activities in China related to Japan's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands (Ishigaki Prefecture). Japanese-owned factories were torched by rioters. Moreover, Japanese-owned supermarkets were looted. Protesters besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing, burning the Rising Sun flag and hurling stones. 

We need to be on the alert for any future escalation of the current anti-Japanese agitation. We hope that Japanese residing in China as well as travelers will exercise extreme caution. Perhaps they should consider not going to China or returning home if they are already there.

Irresponsible Chinese Government

It is the Chinese government itself, which shows no remorse for its irresponsibility, that bears the most responsibility for the situation. Not only has Beijing ignored science in opposing the release of treated water, it has also prevented accurate information concerning the tritium contained in the treated water from spreading within its borders. It has even gone so far as to actively fan fears. 


Even when the correct information that China's nuclear plants are releasing much greater volumes of tritium than Fukushima Daiichi is posted on Chinese social networking sites, China's censors quickly move to delete it. 

In other words, the authorities in Beijing are providing only misinformation to their own people while leaving anti-Japanese posts in place on social networking sites. 

China's Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Zhejiang Province emits many times more tritium than the Fukushima Daiichi project. April 12, 2011, when the plant was undergoing renovation to double its power output. (© Sankei by Masumi Kawasaki)

Diverting the CCP's Domestic Woes

It is only natural to conclude that it is the Chinese government itself that is orchestrating the anti-Japanese activities and anti-Japan sentiment. 

The Chinese government may be thinking in terms of redirecting the dissatisfaction of its own people arising from China's economic malaise. Or perhaps it is using the treated water release as an anti-Japanese card ー as it has done with historical issues in the past.

However, Chinese leaders would be well-advised to note that its anti-Japan actions are winning few converts throughout the world.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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