Japan’s Kishida, China’s Li Qiang exchange views on Japan’s treated water program

The interaction marked the first contact between the Japanese and Chinese leaders since the treated water began to be released on Aug 24.

Chie Morifuji and Akiko Yoshinaga

Chie Morifuji and Akiko Yoshinaga

The Japan News


Prime Minster Fumio Kishida speaks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three summit in Jakarta on September 6, as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Premier Li Qiang listens. PHOTO: AP/ THE JAPAN NEWS

September 8, 2023

JAKARTA — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held brief talks Wednesday with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Jakarta regarding Japan’s release into the ocean of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

China has imposed a blanket ban on Japanese marine products following the start of the discharge.

The two leaders spoke for about 15 minutes on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “I explained Japan’s stance,” Kishida told reporters after the meeting, without elaborating on whether he had demanded the removal of the ban, likely with the intention of taking a measured approach vis-a-vis Chinese public opinion.

The interaction marked the first contact between the Japanese and Chinese leaders since the treated water began to be released from the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. on Aug. 24.

Kishida informed Li that the ensured safety of the project was based on scientific evidence, while stressing the importance of “building constructive and stable Japan-China relations.”

Kishida also attended the ASEAN Plus Three summit meeting — comprising Japan, China and South Korea — where he sought understanding for the release of the Fukushima aqua.

“The discharge of treated water into the sea is in accordance with international standards and practices, taking all possible safety precautions into account,” Kishida told leaders at the summit. “No problems have arisen from a scientific standpoint.

“The impact of radiation on humans and the environment is negligible,” Kishida added, citing an International Atomic Energy Agency report.

Kishida further underlined that Japan’s approach had been “widely understood by the international community,” and flagged China’s suspension of all Japanese marine products as “uncommon actions.”

According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Li, touched upon his own country’s position at the ASEAN Plus Three meeting, using the term “nuclear-contaminated water,” and saying the water’s disposal “concerns the global marine ecological environment and people’s health.”

However, Li’s claims are believed to have little scientific basis. The Chinese premier also called on Japan to “fully consult with its neighbors and related stakeholders.”

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