China is ratcheting up pressure over Japan’s plan to release treated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, calling on government officials to drink the liquid to prove its safety.
“Japanese politicians said treated wastewater is ‘innocent,’ why don’t they drink, cook & wash clothes with the water first?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Twitter Thursday. When questioned Friday about the comments, Japan Finance Minister Taro Aso sidestepped queries and said Fukushima water contamination levels are below international guideline limits.
Tokyo’s plan to release the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean announced Tuesday has been harshly criticized by China, Taiwan, South Korea and North Korea.
Aso has said the water seemed safe enough to drink. The U.S. State Department indicated the plan appears to be in line with global discharge standards. The International Atomic Energy Agency supported the planned releases, which wouldn’t start for another two years and are expected to last decades.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration maintains import restrictions on some food products from Fukushima due to potential radioactive contamination, according to the prefecture’s website.
There have long been calls to prove the safety of the treated groundwater that’s flowed through the wrecked Fukushima plant. A ruling-party official drank a glass of water in 2011 collected from inside the reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi facility in a bid to back government claims that decontamination efforts were progressing.
— With assistance by Colum Murphy, and Yuko Takeo