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Toxic US-Japan collusion on nuke wastewater taints global environment

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-02-20 08:35

File photo of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. [Photo/Agencies]

Washington and Tokyo are in the midst of a transition from "alliance protection" of their partnership to "alliance projection" into the Indo-Pacific, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said at a recent press conference in Tokyo.

Now many believe such an alliance takes on a much clearer form of "alliance pollution," as the two are ganging up to endanger the Pacific and the wider global ecosystem.

At an open debate on the impact of sea-level rise on international peace and security held Tuesday by the United Nations Security Council, representatives of multiple countries criticized Tokyo over its accelerated push to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

They argued that Japan's discharge plan, defying concerns of neighboring countries, will seriously endanger the global marine environment, ecosystems, and the health and safety of people along the Pacific coast.

Presumably, the United States, with a Pacific coastline, would also fall victim to the health hazards posed by the contaminated water once it reaches the west coast along with the ocean currents.

Washington, however, again glossed over the risks. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has recently claimed that the United States "welcomes Japan's continued openness," saying the plan is "in line with the internationally accepted nuclear safety standards."

Such a response makes sense, considering the government's handling of a recent hazmat train derailment in Ohio, the environmental fallout of which could be massive. Both the US government and media were indifferent to it at first.

Quite tacitly, across the Pacific, Tokyo and Japanese media have also been reticent on this incident, in stark contrast with their fault-finding on some developing countries regarding environment protection.

Behind their collective, selective silence is a toxic US-Japan collusion on nuke wastewater, which is now tainting the Japanese soil.

In 2022, high levels of cancer-causing perfluoro organic compounds were detected in areas around US military bases in Okinawa prefecture, with the bases' firefighting foam being the suspected source, local media reported.

Of the 46 sites sampled surrounding the US military installations as part of a biannual groundwater survey, 32 exceeded Japan's provisional safe drinking water standard.

Outside Okinawa, concentration levels of perfluoro organic compounds sampled at 81 sites in 13 Japanese prefectures exceeded standards, including groundwater and tap water in many parts of Tokyo's Tama area near the US air base in Yokota.

As the Japanese government denied access to investigation inside the US bases, some local residents chose to swallow anger while some investigated the source of contamination on their own.

"I dare not drink tap water here, so I usually consume bottled water," a resident from the Tama area told Xinhua, offering a glimpse into the misery and humiliation experienced by locals at the "US occupied land."

While Emanuel is sparing no effort to urge the US-Japan alliance to draw the sword, the US and Japanese people are suffering from profound pollution problems, with the Pacific Ocean environment and the health of coastal residents under potential threat.

However Washington and Tokyo try to justify each other's environmental wrongdoings, they can never be exempted in the face of overwhelming facts.

The foul of the US-Japan alliance lies not only in its disregard for the global environment and double standards, but also in its absurd values of prioritizing hegemony over public health.

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