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Lee voices opposition to Japan’s discharge of polluted water

Lee voices opposition to Japan’s discharge of polluted water

Posted June. 23, 2023 08:13,   

Updated June. 23, 2023 08:13


"Suppressing the claims about (polluted waters) won’t make the problem itself disappear."

On Thursday, Lee Jae-myung, the representative of the Democratic Party of Korea, visited the town of Jumunjin in Gangneung City, Gangwon Province, and voiced opposition to the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan during a meeting with representatives from the fishing industry. This follows his previous condemnations of the government and the ruling party during visits to coastal cities such as Busan and Incheon. The ruling People Power Party criticized the move, claiming, "They have used radiation rumors to threaten the livelihoods of those in the fishing industry."

"Although Japan's discharging of the polluted water is an act that should not be done, it is an uncontrollable action of another country," Lee said during his opening remarks at the meeting. "But considering the significant damage to Korea, we must clearly express our opposition stance." Prior to the meeting, Lee personally visited the Jumunjin fish market and listened to concerns from the merchants. After holding the onsite supreme council in Gangneung on Friday, the Democratic Party leadership plans to kick off their off-site rallies across the country starting from Seoul on July 1, touring Jeolla, Chungcheong, and Jeju provinces for one month.

In response, the People Power Party strongly criticized it as "spreading misleading rumors ahead of the general elections." Ruling party Chairman Kim Ki-hyun directly denounced the opposition party during the supreme council meeting that day, stating, "It is truly pathetic to see the lowbrow Democratic Party members scrambling to spread rumors in their desperate hopes of receiving another nomination for the general elections."

The People Power Party criticized the Democratic Party's decision to send a letter encouraging a collection action against Japan’s discharging contaminated water to 18 Pacific Island countries, accusing them of “inciting the spread of rumors even outside the country." "In the joint declaration issued at the Pacific Rim countries summit on May 29, the stance of the Korean government was reflected, with an emphasis on scientific verification,” said Yoon Jae-ok, the ruling party's floor leader. “Sending over the claims of a particular political group, which do not represent the official stance of the government nor the National Assembly, to other countries is an extremely irresponsible action in international relations."

Hoon-Sang Park tigermask@donga.com