Nine and a half years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged by the huge tsunami and earthquake, but there still remain many problems to be resolved. At the press conference held on September 10, 2019, just before my resignation as Minister of the Environment, I expressed my view on the question on the disposal of treated radioactive water stored in the tanks at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I stated that “There is no other way except to release the treated radioactive water into the sea and dilute it. The safety of this method will be guaranteed by the government, and the damage caused by harmful rumors will also be secured.” It caused a big fuss for a while, and I was accused by some mass media of announcing a seemingly drastic method. Subsequently, the government reviewed the method carefully and from an overall perspective, holding experts’ meetings as well as hearings from politicians and the people concerned in Fukushima Prefecture. As a result, the government recently decided to conclude the plan to release the treated radioactive water into the sea at a meeting of the inter-ministerial council for Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues in one month or so. This news was reported by most of the newspapers this morning. I received a telephone call from my close newspaper writer. He said, “What you said a year ago as the Minister of the Environment did come true.”
I have nothing to be proud of. The only thing I did was an in-depth study on how to dispose of the treated radioactive water during my term as Minister of the Environment, and I announced its result from my perspective as the Minister in charge of this issue. One year has passed, and the conclusion I reached at that time is about to be adopted as the government’s final plan.
Regarding the nuclear power, it goes without saying that there are many issues to be resolved from the viewpoint of its safety as well as in the social and political perspective. Meanwhile, the importance of the nuclear power under the energy policy should not be underestimated at this stage. If we are to consider the nuclear power as a long range energy policy, working through the nuclear power issues one by one, including the release of the treated radioactive water into the sea, would lead to the realization of our goal. It is a great honor as a politician if I played a role in solving the issue of the disposal of the treated radioactive water.