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Unmasking Chinese propaganda on Fukushima water release

The misinformation campaign even drew the attention of Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest individual
Protesters holding placards reading 'Stop dumping Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean!' march during a rally against Japan's discharge of treated wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, in Seoul on Aug. 25

Protesters holding placards reading 'Stop dumping Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean!' march during a rally against Japan's discharge of treated wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, in Seoul on Aug. 25. (Photo: AFP / UCAN files)

Published: November 07, 2023 12:05 PM GMT
Updated: November 07, 2023 12:25 PM GMT

The Chinese government has been actively propagating misleading information concerning the safety of the Fukushima water release in an attempt to further its own agenda.

We have seen state-affiliated media like Global Times carry pieces, provocatively entitled, “How many dirty tricks will Japan play to whitewash its poisonous dumping plan?” or “Like a rogue nation Japan releases its nuclear garbage.”

Such rhetoric has not only created deep confusion but has caused distrust among the Chinese public making them wary of even considering dining at a sushi restaurant.

China's ban on Japanese seafood imports, which followed the water release, was a significant blow to Japanese seafood producers and processors. It was particularly harsh on those in northern Japan specializing in scallops and sea cucumbers that are highly sought after in the Chinese market.

China has used the opportunity to exploit public fears surrounding the Fukushima water discharge through its state-run media outlets and official statements.

The Chinese government has portrayed the Fukushima release as an environmental catastrophe, ignoring the scientific consensus that the treated and diluted radioactive wastewater poses minimal risks to the environment and human health.

By creating a climate of fear and suspicion, China is attempting to manipulate the narrative around the Fukushima water release to shift the blame and protect its economic interests.

China's stance on the Fukushima water release even drew the attention of Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest individual, during his recent appearance on the planet's most popular podcast, hosted by Joe Rogan.

Musk made it abundantly clear that there is unwarranted fear surrounding the Fukushima radiation incident and that those who frequently raise concerns about its dangers often lack a deep understanding of the situation.

This observation appears to be particularly relevant to China, which seems to rely more on rhetoric than on scientific evidence to instill fear within its population, painting Japan as a rogue, autocratic nation that acts without international consensus.

Musk went on to emphasize the fact that not a single individual, including those near the nuclear plant, has perished due to Fukushima radiation.

Yet China wants us to believe that munching on Pacific Ocean fish is a daring game of radioactive Russian roulette.

China knows well that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted safety assessments and sampling missions in Fukushima and concluded that, if carried out as planned, the water release would have minimal impact.

The Japanese government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have taken measures to ensure the discharge is executed safely and according to international standards.

Efforts to counter Chinese propaganda include providing transparent data on the safety of the treated water release, conducting frequent testing, and actively involving international experts and organizations to validate the process.

In addition, Japan has initiated campaigns to encourage domestic seafood consumption and promote the region's products.

In fact, over just a few months, the Fukushima nuclear power plant's release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea has had an unexpected positive impact on the local fishing industry in Japan.

Rather than causing a business catastrophe, consumers from across the country have shown support by increasing their consumption of fish from the region. This demand has helped mitigate the negative effects of China's ban on Japanese seafood.

The treated water discharge, which began in August, was initially met with opposition from local fishing groups but subsequent testing and data have reassured consumers about the safety of fish from Fukushima.

Despite concerns about the future of the water release, the support for Fukushima's seafood industry continues to grow through various initiatives, such as government relief funds and promotional campaigns.

However, experts caution that long-term measures are needed to revive the region's fisheries industry and ensure safety. Fukushima's local catch remains significantly lower than pre-disaster levels, and efforts to boost local fish consumption still need to be sustained.

All in all the success of Japan's attempt to assure its population about the safety of the fish, in contrast to the Chinese effort, stems from the fact that one relies on concrete data and science, while the other is grounded in fear and deceptions.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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