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Int`l probe can address distrust in Japan`s handling of Fukushima situation

Int`l probe can address distrust in Japan`s handling of Fukushima situation

Posted September. 28, 2013 05:15,   


Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has proposed that Japan have the Fukushima nuclear power plant undergo examination by global organization and provide information on the situation of the recent leaks of contaminated water. The proposal is a good idea that would allow the international community to get objective and accurate grasp about the contamination of the soil and waters near the power plant. The involvement of the IAEA, the highest authority in nuclear and radioactive issues, would greatly help Japan win domestic and international trust, let alone determine the cause of the leaks and come up with measures to handle the situation.

Although 30 months have passed since the Fukushima incident, the Japanese government is fueling anxiety and distrust. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of International Olympic Committee members on Sept. 8 that contaminated water leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant were "under control" within 0.3 kilometers of the area.

In an interview Tuesday with Korean media, Kenya Mizuguchi, emeritus professor of maritime science and technology at Tokyo University, rebutted Abe`s remarks, arguing that large amount of contaminated water was being leaked into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co.`s Friday announcement that it detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of radioactive materials in a well near the reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 and 2 Nuclear Power Plants also puts Abe to shame. In a recent survey by Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, 95 percent of the respondents said the water contamination was "serious."

Concerns over Japan`s radioactive contamination and its seafood is spreading to most countries in the Pacific basin. The United States has recently banned agricultural and fishery imports from 14 prefectures in Japan, up from eight. South Korea puts a similar ban on fishery imports from eight prefectures, while China and Taiwan does so for 10 and five prefectures, respectively.

The International Atomic Energy Association plans to send a second team of investigators to Fukushima after the first one in April. While the first examination was focused on the nuclear power plant`s safety and wastes, the upcoming probe needs to shed light on the cause and situation of soil and sea water contamination. As the contamination of the sea and fishery products are immediately linked to health issues, the World Health Organization`s participation in the probe is also desirable. It would be much better if experts from South Korea, the United States and China participate in the investigation. It is natural for a global organization to intervene in an international issue. Tokyo should accept the IAEA chief`s proposal.