West's silence on Japan's eco-crime is truly deafening
A post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday claimed that "China will begin to discharge 1.3 million tons of nuclear wastewater on Aug 24. Radiative contamination will reach the United States in 120 days and yet China said the wastewater is treated and safe".
"Oh, it's Japan. Never mind. Nothing to worry about," it said.
The post reveals the horrifying double standard and hypocrisy of many Western media outlets, governments, and people over a heinous environmental crime being committed by Japan, one of the West's most trusted allies.
A European Commission spokesman dismissed rising concerns over Japan's action on Aug 8 when asked about how to prevent radioactive Japanese seafood from landing on European dinner tables. Needless to say, his answer would have been starkly different if it were about China.
The Japanese government, while fooling some officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has failed to convince many scientists, many of the Japanese citizens and people in other East Asian and Pacific island countries about its plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea from Thursday.
Its argument that a relatively swift solution is needed to the problem of radioactive water, as the storage tanks holding the so-called treated radioactive water at the Fukushima facility have reached almost full capacity, is deeply flawed. Should the concerns over the health of people and the Pacific Ocean be ignored for a quick solution to the nuclear-contaminated water problem?
The radioactive water, enough to fill 500 Olympic-size swimming pools, will be discharged into the ocean, posing a threat to marine and human life for a long time to come.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's instruction on Tuesday to Tokyo Electric Power, the owner of the Fukushima facility, which was damaged in the earthquake-triggered tsunami in 2011, to immediately prepare for dumping the radioactive water into the sea weather and ocean conditions permitting is simply giving an order to commit a crime.
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace who has worked in Japan for 30 years, expressed his outrage, saying the Japanese government "has opted for a false solution — decades of deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment — during a time when the world's oceans are already facing immense stress and pressures".
He added that "this is an outrage that violates the human rights of the people and communities of Fukushima, and other neighboring prefectures and the wider Asia-Pacific region", a strong condemnation of the Japanese government's wrongdoing.
People in China, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea and Japan itself have all strongly protested against the Japanese government's decision. Even in the faraway Pacific islands, people are worried about the negative impact of the radioactive water on their health and livelihoods. The Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental organization representing the region, said that it had "grave concerns" over the Japanese government's plan, calling for the use of international law to prevent Japan from dumping the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
PIF Secretary General Henry Puna said that "our people do not have anything to gain from Japan's plan but have much at risk for generations to come", highlighting the outcry from the many small island countries.
China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region have banned seafood imports from 10 Japanese regions beginning Thursday due to concerns over food safety. And the ban on seafood from those regions imposed by the Chinese mainland and the ROK after the 2011 disaster continues.
Western politicians and media outlets like to lecture the world on how to protect oceans, human rights and human life, but when the largest environmental crime is being committed in front of the whole world, they have turned a blind eye to the crime. Their silence is truly deafening. People around the world can see their despicable hypocrisy and double standard.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.