“Tokyo Electric Power keeps its promise. The government keeps its promise. defend the sea keep the fishery keep the children Protect the future.”
It was 9:00 am on the 24th, four hours before the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. A slogan echoed along the road in Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture. About 10 residents who are active in the ‘Do not pollute the sea any more’ citizens’ meeting spread a placard on the road about 2km away from the nuclear power plant. It was the last point on the road that gave the public the closest access to the nuclear power plant.
Kazuyoshi Sato (69), co-representative of the Citizens’ Association, delivered a press conference and said, “The government promised in writing that it would never discharge water without our consent, but then discharged it unilaterally without seeking understanding.” We plan to file an administrative and civil lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court on the 8th of next month.”
Sumio Konno, who participated in the protest, was working at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, when the Fukushima nuclear power plant explosion occurred. Fortunately, he was on a business trip to another nuclear power plant on the day of the accident, so he was able to avoid exposure. He later resigned from Tokyo Electric Power, where he worked for 29 years.
Konno said, “Based on my own experience, TEPCO does not have the ability to properly discharge and manage contaminated water. “The ability to respond is messed up, and something always breaks down,” he said, concerned that “problems will arise unconditionally during the release process.” “The sea is not a trash can,” he said. Even if the contaminated water is diluted, the total amount remains the same, and it will eventually enter the human mouth.” He continued, “The Japanese government has been ignoring the scientific connection even though there is data showing high incidences of leukemia and cancer near the Fukushima nuclear power plant.”
Contrary to the words of the Japanese government calling for ‘normalization of Fukushima’, many places around the nuclear power plant were frozen in time as they were at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The closer to the nuclear power plant, the higher the number of radioactive billboards installed on the road. In many places, it far exceeded 2.0 microsieverts per hour. The radiation dose of natural radiation is usually about 0.1 to 0.3 microsievert per hour. There were also traces of hurriedly burying contaminated soil that had been piled up not too long ago.
Dozens of reporters gathered at the protest site that day. However, major Japanese media did not show it. Most of them were foreign reporters from Korea and China. Tomoko Sato, who participated in the demonstration, raised her voice, saying, “Japanese media do not report too much on the dangers of contaminated water,” and that “reporters also have responsibility.” Sato fled after the nuclear accident and returned to her hometown of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture five years ago. “Contaminated water continues to seep into the groundwater as it continues to be created,” said Sato, who now lives with her young grandson안전놀이터.
They were frustrated because they did not know how long the release would last. TEPCO said it would release the contaminated water for 30 years, but as the decommissioning work was delayed, it is predicted that it will take more than 100 years. He said that he had inquired dozens of times about the exact discharge period of TEPCO, but had not received an answer.
It has also been argued that the government is not even trying to find other ways to treat the contaminated water. It was said that more than 3 billion yen (27.2 billion won) was spent on a campaign to publicize the safety of contaminated water, but no investment was made in research on treatment methods other than discharge of contaminated water.
Protesters said the contaminated water should be solidified into concrete and stored in Fukushima. Konno raised his voice, saying, “There are not enough Fukushima residents, so now we can’t sacrifice people from other countries.”
However, despite the earnest appeals of the residents, at 1:03 pm on the same day, the contaminated water eventually began pouring into the sea. On this day, around 1:00 PM, when the discharge was scheduled, NHK broadcasted the entire view of the nuclear power plant live, but the citizens did not show any reaction. An office worker who was eating lunch at a restaurant said, “They are broadcasting live,” but didn’t seem to care too much.
Regarding the reason why ordinary citizens do not raise their voices of opposition, local journalist Shohei Makiuchi said, “Because the Japanese government has long propagated that contaminated water is safe, public opinion has been formed among citizens that ‘it is safe, but there is nothing special’.” He said, “This discharge of contaminated water is the government forging the consent of the citizens.”
There was also a request to raise the voice of opposition in Korea. Co-CEO Sato said, “Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol is working hand in hand with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida,” and appealed for “Koreans to stop President Yoon from allowing the Japanese government to discharge contaminated water.”