|Rep. Woo Won-shik, second from left, of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea and other party representatives attends a meeting with officials of the International Maritime Organization at its London headquarters, Saturday (local time). Yonhap|
Seafood consumption remains stable despite opposition party's 'fear-mongering'
By Jung Min-ho
Before Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last month, Korea's opposition party warned of grave consequences for public health and the seafood industry.
Nearly a month has passed since TEPCO started discharging the water gradually into the Pacific. However, none of the Democratic Party of Korea's (DPK) warnings have so far been shown to come true. No health issues related to the release have been found and seafood sales remain stable, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Yet the party is doubling down on its anti-Fukushima campaign, despite growing skepticism.
DPK Reps. Woo Won-shik and Yang Yiwonyoung visited the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, Saturday (local time). In a meeting with IMO Secretary-General Lim Ki-tack, they expressed health and environmental concerns and called for the organization's action to stop the release.
"We asked for its efforts to prevent the contaminated water discharge, in accordance with the spirit of the London Convention and the London Protocol," Woo said.
The two international agreements, signed respectively in 1972 and 1996, aim to promote controlling sources of marine pollution and take necessary steps to prevent pollution of the sea through the dumping of waste and other materials. A meeting of the parties to the agreements is planned for next month.
However, the IMO did not promise anything specific other than "further discussions" on the issue from "a broader perspective of protecting the ocean."
|U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel holds a plastic bag after buying fruit at the Soma City JA Co-op in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Aug. 31, during his visit to show his support for the water discharge from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Reuters-Yonhap|
Meanwhile, DPK Rep. Lee Su-jin went to Englewood, New Jersey, and met with State Senator Gordon Johnson.
During their meeting, she described the Fukushima water release as "an international crime that threatens the safety of people around the world and the marine ecosystem." She also claimed it was one of the main reasons that prompted Rep. Lee Jae-myung, the DPK chairman, to go on a hunger strike starting Aug. 31.
But stating he is a politician who does not represent the U.S. federal government, Johnson reportedly did not express his opinion on the issue and refused to pose for photos with anti-Fukushima banners.
She then joined other liberal lawmakers and officials for a candlelit rally in New York City.
Cho Jin-man, a professor of politics and international relations at Duksung Women's University, told The Korea Times that all this suggests that the DPK is struggling to galvanize public opinion against the Fukushima issue both in Korea and overseas.
"But the party continues to do so anyway because it may be the one of only few options left available," the scholar said. "With general elections coming early next year and its chairman facing indictment, the DPK will likely continue trying hard to keep the issue alive for political reasons."
At Friday's press briefing, Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, said no abnormalities had been detected in terms of concentration levels of tritium, the most concerning radionuclide in the discharged water that could potentially harm DNA.