Hundreds of South Koreans took to the streets in Seoul on Saturday to protest against Japan’s plans to release treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The demonstrations occurred a day after the South Korean government officially endorsed the safety of Japan’s plans, stating that the water’s contamination levels would meet acceptable standards and have minimal impact on South Korean seas. The endorsement aligned with the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which approved Japan’s discharge plans, deeming them safe and posing negligible environmental and health risks.
Despite the scorching heat, protesters peacefully marched through the city center, holding signs denouncing the sea disposal of Fukushima’s wastewater and expressing opposition to the discharge. The protests coincided with a meeting between IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin to address concerns over food safety. The discussions aimed to alleviate public fears surrounding potential contamination. Grossi expressed willingness to engage with critics and actively communicate to address concerns.
However, his arrival in Seoul was met with angry protesters who criticized the IAEA’s support for the discharge plans. The issue of Fukushima’s wastewater has long been a sensitive matter between South Korea and Japan, with efforts to improve bilateral relations strained by historical grievances. South Korea’s assessment of the discharge plan was based, in part, on observations made by a team of government scientists who toured the Fukushima plant in May.