Japan began discharging treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific, leading to China’s decision to ban all Japanese aquatic products immediately. China, expressing strong concern over potential radioactive contamination, has met with Tokyo’s accusations of promoting “scientifically unfounded claims.” While Japan, supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), maintains the water release is harmless, China remains unconvinced. In 2022, China was the largest market for Japan’s aquatic exports, valued at around $600 million.
Decades of Cleanup and Public Outcry
Following the 2011 tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s remediation has been ongoing. The recent release, which equals three Olympic swimming pools, took approximately 17 days. This treated water’s radioactivity level is below the World Health Organization’s threshold for drinking water. However, public mistrust remains significant.
Besides China’s response, Hong Kong and Macau have also initiated bans on certain Japanese seafood imports. Meanwhile, South Korea has no immediate plans to lift its import restrictions on Fukushima products. Protests have erupted in various regions, with some in Hong Kong depicting the IAEA head as demonic, condemning Japan’s discharge decision as “irresponsible, illegal, and immoral.”