China’s opposition to Japan’s planned nuclear wastewater release prompts accusations of hypocrisy.
Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is just ahead, but first, making headlines:
U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday limiting U.S. investments in such high-tech sectors in China as quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced semiconductors, but apparently not in the broader Chinese economy, which recently has been struggling to advance.
Two U.S. Navy sailors accused of spying for China were denied bail Tuesday after appearing in separate federal courts in California for pretrial detention hearings. The Department of Justice said sailor Jinchao “Patrick” Wei, was charged with espionage and Petty Officer Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao was charged with transmitting information to a People’s Republic of China intelligence officer.
“This was like a David vs. Goliath situation.”
After a Chinese Coast Guard ship fired a powerful water cannon over the weekend at Philippine naval vessels cruising toward a disputed reef on a resupply mission, China demanded on Tuesday the Philippines remove a scuttled naval vessel being used as an occupied base. It’s the latest territorial dispute involving China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
South Korea on Tuesday evacuated the majority of teenage scouts from their campsite ahead of an approaching typhoon. More than 40,000 participants and volunteers from 156 countries are taking part in the 10-day World Scout Jamboree.
Nagasaki on Wednesday marked the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city as the mayor urged the elimination of nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a video message that the country will lead efforts within the international community to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
Japanese media report that the country is due to start releasing wastewater used to cool the crippled reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant as soon as the end of August. China has criticized the planned release and imposed restrictions on Japanese seafood imports – prompting accusations of hypocrisy, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Tokyo.
More than one thousand giant tanks surround the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, holding more than 1.3 million metric tons of wastewater used to cool the reactors. Most radioactive contaminants have been removed – but the water still contains the radioactive element tritium, explains American scientist Paul Dickman, an advisor to the Japanese government.
“It is natural, it's in everything we eat, drink and breathe actually. Anything that has water in it has tritium in it. So, all nuclear reactors produce, as a byproduct, small amounts of tritium. And the way that you deal with this - and we have, constantly - is to discharge this either in through evaporation into the air or discharge it into a water body.”
Japan plans to release the wastewater over several years, diluting the tritium concentration until the water quality exceeds drinking water standards.
The majority of scientists say the plan is safe. But some of Japan’s neighbors, especially China, have strongly criticized the move, imposing restrictions on Japanese seafood imports.
“Our opposition to Japan's ocean discharge plan and the relevant measures we are taking are well grounded.”
Nuclear power stations across the world – including many in China – constantly dispose of tritium into the sea. Beijing does not publish figures of how much it releases into the oceans.
Meanwhile Japan is conducting a public communications campaign – through animated films and advertising – even live streaming a video of fish living in a tank of treated wastewater.
“Here in Tokyo’s giant Tsukiji fish market, the stallholders are confident over the safety of their seafood. But this isn’t just about science. Japan is in a political and public relations battle with some of its biggest Asian buyers.”
Henry Ridgwell for VOA News, Tokyo.
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Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly. I’m Chris Casquejo.
We leave you now in India’s southern Kottayam city, where paddy fields are teeming with pink water lilies, drawing scores of tourists.