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'Japan must be prudent in Fukushima water issue'

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Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine is being summoned with a somber look at the South Korean foreign ministry headquarters in Seoul, Wednesday. Seoul's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young called the Japanese diplomat in on Wednesday when Tokyo's decision to remove South Korea from its whitelist of countries receiving trade benefits took legal effect. Yonhap
Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine is being summoned with a somber look at the South Korean foreign ministry headquarters in Seoul, Wednesday. Seoul's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young called the Japanese diplomat in on Wednesday when Tokyo's decision to remove South Korea from its whitelist of countries receiving trade benefits took legal effect. Yonhap


By Lee Min-hyung

South Korea has urged Japan to remain transparent in its handling of 1.15 million tons of water that was contaminated after the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.

"Japan explained that no specific conclusions over how to handle the water have been made as of now," the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement. "The Japanese government also stressed that it is dealing with the issue in a responsible manner on a scientific basis."

Previously, the ministry sent a diplomatic letter to its Japanese counterpart, asking Tokyo to share details over how it will dispose of the contaminated water, as its possible release into the neighboring ocean could end up polluting the East Sea.

Environmental groups, NGOs and activists such as Greenpeace have been warning about the possibility of serious danger posed by any discharge of the Fukushima water ― believed to be contaminated with tritium ― into the Pacific Ocean, underscoring the effect it could have on South Korea.

Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, South Korea has been raising its concerns about radiation at major Olympic venues near the Fukushima nuclear plant and the risk that its athletes may consume contaminated food products.

The Fukushima issue was a part of South Korea's fresh encounter with Japan after Seoul scrapped a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact. Political experts say South Korea "knows a key tender spot" by taking the Fukushima issue ― Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was hoping to use the Games as a sign of recovery and hope after the Fukushima disaster.

Meanwhile, Seoul also has stepped up criticism of Tokyo for "seeking to deny its brutal wartime history" amid their intensifying political feud.

"We have a sense of doubt over whether Japan is facing up to the gloomy history which caused severe pain to people from a number of Asian countries, including Korea," the ministry said in a separate statement.

Lee Min-hyung mhlee@koreatimes.co.kr


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