Japanese official reassures S. Korea, China on Fukushima wastewater release

Japan's top environmental official told his South Korean and Chinese counterparts Saturday that wastewater being released into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is safe. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI

Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Japanese Environmental Shintaro Ito reassured his Korean and Chinese counterparts on Saturday that wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is safe to release into the ocean.

During a three-way meeting in Nagoya, Japan, Ito said his government had "reconfirmed" that treated water "will not affect people or the environment."

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster was triggered when an earthquake knocked out power to the facility's cooling system, causing three of the reactors to fail. An explosion then caused radioactive materials to leak into the surrounding environment.

The Japanese government has been treating the water and releasing it into the Pacific Ocean since August.

Critics of Japan's mitigation policies have claimed water that was supposedly previously treated was still radioactive.

Chinese ecology and environment minister Huang Rinqiu, however, stressed the importance of cooperation to address environmental risks.

"This meeting is being held offline for the first time in four years. I hope that can send a positive signal to the international community about the restoration of trilateral environmental cooperation between China, Japan, and South Korea," he said, according to the state-run China Daily News.

"Environmental cooperation benefits the wellbeing of both countries," Huang said.

Huang also emphasized that other environmental goals would benefit from tripartite cooperation and that he looked forward to cooperating with Japan and South Korea ahead of the upcoming COP28 climate conference