With regard to the disposal of treated radioactive water stored at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, I was interviewed by the newspaper Sekai Nippo (the World Daily News). I frankly spoke what I was thinking about the disposal.
First of all, at the press conference held in mid-September 2019, just before my resignation as Minister of the Environment, I made a remark regarding the disposal of more than 1.3 million tons of treated radioactive water stored in the tanks at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. I stated, “There is no other way except diluting treated radioactive water to the safety standard and releasing it into the sea.” It was not a mere casual idea. I made up my mind to express my view after exchanging views with many experts during my tenure as the Minister of the Environment. To back up my view, I referred to the fact that the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority stated that there was no problem concerning the safety of the release of treated and diluted radioactive water into the sea, and the basic premise was that the government would compensate the local people of Fukushima Prefecture for their damages caused by the harmful rumors. Since then, the sub-committee in the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has been discussing the disposal method for a year and half, and the options have been narrowed down to releasing treated and diluted radioactive water into the sea.
In order to realize the release of the said treated and diluted radioactive water, it is prerequisite to obtain the agreement of the people of Fukushima Prefecture, particularly those who are engaged in fishery. Both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO) are making efforts to do so, but if they continue to be in conflict, they will not be able to resolve the issue for decades. I would say, “Give the sub-committee more prestige and power so that it can exercise its authority with confidence in whatever it decides”. Currently, the government and TEPCO seem to be too gentle and reserved in their efforts to coordinate with the Fukushima Prefectural Government and the fishery people. The government should take the lead in compensating the local people for the damage caused by harmful rumors. The sooner the issue is resolved, the better for the local people. For that purpose, the government should spare no effort in compensating the people and implementing any other necessary measures against harmful rumors.
The most difficult issue is the release of tritium which most of the criticism focuses on. The in-depth study of tritium has been making rapid progress. In fact, the concentration of tritium has been diluted to much safer level than the government’s general safety standard. If the government provides the local people with sufficient explanations desperately, I believe that it will be possible for the government to persuade them.
The Sekai Nippo, which interviewed me today, may not be so influential compared to newspapers with nationwide circulation. Nonetheless, the paper faithfully interviewed me, and reported correctly what I explained. It is necessary for the people of Fukushima to resolve this issue as soon as possible. I will keep raising this issue, hoping for an early settlement.