Japan calls harassment calls from China over Fukushima water release ‘extremely regrettable’

A view of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after it started releasing treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, from the nearby Ukedo fishing port in the city of Namie, Fukushima prefecture, Japan August 25, 2023. REUTERS/Tom Bateman/File Photo Acquire license rights

TOKYO, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Japan said on Monday it was extremely unfortunate that there had been many cases of harassing phone calls from China regarding the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific.

Japan started water drainage on Thursday. This is an important step towards decommissioning the Fukushima power plant, which experienced triple meltdown following a tsunami in 2011 following a powerful earthquake. China firmly rejects the move. “There are many harassment calls in Japan believed to be from China… These developments are extremely unfortunate and concern us,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the top government spokesman, said at a regular news conference.

Such calls prompted Vice Foreign Minister Masataka Okano to subpoena the Chinese ambassador, Japan’s foreign ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said the calls were also made at Japanese facilities in China, urging the government to take appropriate measures immediately and ensure the safety of Japanese citizens.

Fukushima City Hall first received calls using country code 86, which is for China, on Thursday, and the number of those calls surpassed 200 the following day, congesting phone lines and disrupting the normal work of city employees, a city official said.

On the same day, elementary and middle schools in the city, 60 km (38 miles) northwest of the decommissioned power plant, received 65 similar calls, he said.

When a person who understands Chinese took one of these calls, the caller made a remark saying, “Why are you dumping tainted water into the Pacific Ocean, which is a sea for all?” the official said.

Other municipalities, hotels and restaurants have also received such calls since the water release began, domestic media reported.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Martin Pollard in Beijing; Edited by Jacqueline Wong and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Amanda Walker

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