TOKYO -- Japanese fishing industry representatives on Oct. 8 expressed their resolute opposition to the planned release of radioactively contaminated water that has built up following the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the sea, saying it would create damaging rumors and could negatively affect the industry into the future.
The comments came in a government hearing with Japan's national federation of fisheries cooperatives, JF Zengyoren, and other representatives over the handling of the contaminated water and whether to dump it into the sea.
"Damaging rumors would inevitably occur, and the consensus of those in the fishing industry is that we are absolutely opposed to releasing it at sea," JF Zengyoren Chairman Hiroshi Kishi stated at the meeting.
The hearing is expected to be the last scheduled gathering in a series of meetings that have been held since April. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has stated that he wants to decide on a policy for dealing with the contaminated water as soon as possible, and the government is set to reach a decision based on opinions heard to date.
At the meeting, Kishi warned that if the contaminated water from the nuclear plant were released into the sea "all the efforts of fishing industry workers to date would come to nothing." He added, "It would be a setback and letdown for those in the fishing industry and could have a devastating impact into the future." He said that he had heard from the government about measures to prevent damaging rumors, but stated, "Not releasing it (contaminated water) into the sea is simply the best approach."
A seafood processing federation from Fukushima Prefecture was among the bodies represented at the meeting. Federation head Toshihito Ono commented, "I've worked on the front lines with regard to damage from rumors following the nuclear plant accident for nine years. Even when the fish are caught outside the prefecture, if the processing firm is in Fukushima then they'll be stigmatized."
After the meeting, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kiyoshi Ejima commented, "We've heard opinions from 43 people to date. We'd like to sort them out as soon as possible and reach a conclusion with governmental responsibility."
The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations and the national consumers federation Shodanren earlier expressed opposition to the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant at sea. The association of inns and hotels of Fukushima Prefecture, meanwhile, has expressed understanding of the move, as has the Central Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government has taken the position that the issue should be given careful consideration, while the head of the Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry said the water should be dealt with quickly and rumors dispelled, and that the central government should process the water responsibly.
(Japanese original by Suzuko Araki, Science & Environment News Department)