Japanese government plans to buy seafood if Fukushima water discharge affects sales
The government said on Tuesday it would buy seafood to support fishermen, on an emergency basis, if the expected release into the sea of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant negatively impacts sales.
The government plans to create a fund that can be flexibly used to purchase seafood from Fukushima Prefecture and other parts of Japan, according to a plan drawn up to help fishermen threatened by damage to their reputation, have government officials said.
The move came amid calls from fishermen to come up with specific measures to prevent damage to the reputation of marine products following the government’s decision in April to start draining water from around spring 2023.
“We will go to great lengths to prevent reputational damage and create an environment where (fishermen) can continue their operations feeling secure even if reputational damage does occur,” the secretary said in Chief of Staff Katsunobu Kato at a meeting of Cabinet ministers involved in the plan.
As part of these measures, the government will temporarily purchase and store products that can be frozen and help fishermen expand the sales channels of those that cannot be frozen, if demand for locally produced seafood drops sharply in Japan. and abroad, officials said.
The size and details of the proposed fund remain to be determined, officials said.
The government will also ask the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco), to show a specific compensation framework at an early date to serve as a safety net in case the fishermen suffer losses despite the rigorous implementation of measures against damage to reputation. , they said.
Tepco chairman Tomoaki Kobayakawa, who also attended the meeting, told reporters he would take the government’s instructions “seriously”, adding that his company would announce plans for compensation and water release. ” as soon as possible”.
More than a million tons of treated water have accumulated at Fukushima’s No.1 Plant since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown of the complex in March 2011.
Water pumped from crumbling reactors at the Fukushima power plant to cool molten fuel, mixed with rain and also contaminated groundwater, is treated using an Advanced Liquid Treatment System (ALPS) .
The process removes most of the radioactive material, including strontium and cesium, but leaves behind tritium, which is said to pose little health risk in low concentrations.
The government has said its decision to allow Tepco to drain the water poses no safety concerns, but the move has sparked an uproar from local fishermen and neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.
To understand how domestic consumers and people abroad perceive the safety of treated water, the government will also conduct an online survey and create a system to prevent reputational damage from occurring, officials said.
The government will offer detailed explanations on the safety of treated water to companies involved in the processing, distribution and retailing of seafood products to prevent the prices of local seafood from falling to unreasonably low levels.
Japan also plans to work closely with organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency to increase transparency and international credibility.
The government plans to develop medium and long-term action plans by the end of this year, covering the period following the discharge of treated water. It will continue to accept contributions from relevant parties to add necessary measures, officials said.
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