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'Safe and delicious': Japan's PM eats Fukushima fish to dispel worries after water release

A sushi presentation at Anzu, where some of the fish is flown in fresh from Tokyo markets.
A sushi presentation at Anzu, where some of the fish is flown in fresh from Tokyo markets. Copyright Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle
Copyright Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle
By Euronews with AP & AFP
Published on Updated
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Japan's Prime Minister ate fish caught off Fukushima's coast on Wednesday to alleviate fears after the controversial release of water from the disabled Ōkuma nuclear power station

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and three Cabinet ministers enjoyed sashimi fished off the coast of Fukushima at a lunch meeting on Wednesday, in an apparent effort to dispel safety concerns following the release of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

According to Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who was at the lunch meeting, Kishida and the three lawmakers sat down to a spread of flounder, octopus and seabass as well as boiled pork, fruits and various vegetables in the leader's office.

"We eat in support of the Sanriku Joban region. All seafood items from Sanriku Joban are full of appeal," Kishida told reporters who were invited to film the meal.

This region forms part of Japan's northern Pacific shoreline, including Fukushima.

Eugene Hoshiko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
FILE - The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Eugene Hoshiko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

"Please everyone show your support for Japan’s safe and delicious seafood items including those from Sanriku Joban," said Kishida to the camera.

The projected decades-long release of treated water has been strongly opposed by fishing groups and criticised by neighbouring countries.

China immediately banned imports of seafood from Japan in response.

In Seoul, thousands of South Koreans rallied over the weekend to condemn the release, demanding Japan keep it in tanks.

Lee Jin-man/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Thousands of South Korean protesters shouted slogans during a rally to demand the stop of Japan's release of treated radioactive water into the sea in Seoul, Aug. 26, 2023.Lee Jin-man/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Japanese officials and the plant operator say treated radioactive wastewater that has accumulated since the March 2011 accident at the nuclear plant, now totalling 134 million tonnes and stored in about 1,000 tanks, is taking up much of the plant area and must be removed to free up space to build facilities for the plant's cleanup and decommissioning, which are also expected to take decades.

Kishida pledged on Monday to do his utmost to protect Japan's fisheries industry from the impact of China's import ban and said he will announce support measures later this week.

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