xi's moments
Home | From the Press

Japan should behave responsibly to ensure safe oceans for all

By Ye Shan | Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-14 10:48

People rally to protest against the Japanese government's decision to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea, in Tokyo, capital of Japan, April 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi)

The decision announced on Tuesday by the Japanese government to dump Fukushima's contaminated radioactive wastewater into the sea has put humanity's future at risk.

Such a reckless decision has sparked opposition in Japan and abroad as this resolution will pose a threat to the maritime ecosystem, and therefore endanger the public health and food safety of neighboring countries, as well as the rest of the world in the long run.

As an island country with cutting-edge technologies, Japan should think twice, behave more responsibly and take account of the well-being of people both at home and abroad.

The disposal of the contaminated wastewater has been a decade-long problem since the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. That accident resulted in the release of a large amount of radioactive materials, profoundly impacting on the marine environment, food safety and human health.

After suffering core meltdowns, the Fukushima nuclear plant has been generating massive amounts of radiation-tainted water. Substances like tritium, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear reactors, are hard to filter out despite using a liquid processing system.

For starters, tritium is light, so it could reach as far afield as the US West Coast within two years, said Ken Buesseler at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

According to some marine experts, traces of ruthenium, cobalt, strontium, and plutonium isotopes in the wastewater also raise concerns, not to mention whether Japan's plan to use a filtering process will pan out or not.

What is more worrying is the possibility that the wastewater, if dumped from Fukushima prefecture, might circle around the entire Pacific Ocean. Whether the ocean can digest or filter out the radioactive matters remains uncertain.

If the radioactive matters can't be digested or filtered out by the ocean, the situation would be dire. Once the marine ecosystem is destroyed by the wastewater, it can never be restored.

Out of this concern, many Japanese people oppose the government's plan. A poll conducted by Asahi Shimbun newspaper in January showed that 55 percent of respondents were against the government's plan to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater into the sea.

When announcing the appalling decision, the Japanese government explained that the local nuclear plant operator was running out of storage capacity and excluded a negative impact on the environment or human health.

Putting aside whether Japan's explanation can hold water, there is another question. Has it tried all safe disposal means? If not, why?

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster is one of the biggest nuclear accidents in the world, Japan should never view the disposal of nuclear waste from the Fukushima plant as just a domestic issue.

In a world where all countries are inextricably interconnected, Japan should at least consult the neighboring countries and the international community before making decisions. Any unilateral decision or action on the issue is irresponsible.

Simply speaking, the ocean is not the property of one country, but a common wealth of mankind. The disposal of nuclear waste is closely related to the international marine environment, food safety and human health.

Ensuring a safe ocean should be the common responsibility for all humanity. When faced with either convenience or international obligations, Japan should make the right choice as it also belongs to a community with a shared future.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349