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Kerry says US taking wait-and-see stance on Fukushima water release

U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry attends a news conference on March 11, 2021, in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said in South Korea on Sunday that his country has confidence in coordination efforts between Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency on releasing treated radioactive water accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean, stressing that Washington will take a wait-and-see stance on the issue.

    Kerry, who arrived in Seoul on Saturday after visiting Shanghai, said in a press briefing held on Sunday that it is not "appropriate for the United States to jump in to a process that's already under way" and expressed willingness to wait. His comment was in response to calls by South Korea's Foreign Minister Chung Eui Yong, who has urged Washington to take action.

    South Korea has made a strong protest over the Japanese government's decision to discharge the water into the sea despite opposition from several countries, and criticized the move as a unilateral decision that did not offer a full explanation to the country geographically closest to Japan.

    "The United States is confident that the government of Japan has had very full consultations with the IAEA," said Kerry, adding that Japan's continued coordination with the agency is key.

    Kerry emphasized that the United States will monitor the progress of the release.

    "Will we watch it? Like other nations? Will we be concerned to make sure that the procedures are followed? Sure. We take an interest in that, but not anything in a formal way of process," he said.

    On Tuesday, the Japanese government decided to begin releasing the treated water into the sea from the Fukushima plant in two years, a major development after years of discussions on how to deal with the water used to cool down melted fuel there.

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