We reprint below an article by Otis Grotewohl, originally published in Workers World, about the Japanese government’s release of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean.
Otis notes that, while the government in Tokyo has claimed the process is safe, many people are skeptical, including the Japanese opposition parties, fishermen, local residents and environmental campaigners. Greenpeace Japan states that Tokyo’s decision “disregards scientific evidence, violates the human rights of communities in Japan and the Pacific region, and is non-compliant with international maritime law.”
The Chinese government has announced a ban on imports of Japanese seafood in response to the discharge. Japan, in league with the US and other imperialist powers, is now criticizing China for this ban and for spreading disinformation. “Just as the Japanese government and its Western enablers accuse China of ‘disinformation,’ the capitalist rulers of Washington and Tokyo are waging a major public relations campaign to convince people in the region that seafood from the Pacific Ocean will still be safe to consume after the release of wastewater.”
As Otis points out, the Japanese government’s action is a threat to the health and safety of people in the region, and is being carried out solely in accordance with “the material needs and desires of the employing class.” China meanwhile has taken a clear lead on renewable energy and biodiversity, and is advocating for the interests of ordinary people both in China and throughout the region.
“Anyone concerned with the well-being of humanity and our ecosystem should defend China and stand in solidarity with workers in the Asia-Pacific region who are being threatened with a polluted ocean, poisoned water and contaminated seafood.”
The Japanese government began releasing wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 24. The controversial move has angered workers throughout the region, sparking numerous protests in South Korea, China and Japan.
Following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 — which destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions and a release of radioactive contaminants — the nuclear company Tepco started pumping in water to cool down the reactors’ fuel rods.
Radioactive wastewater has been added to tanks every day since then, and more than 1,000 tanks have been filled. The government of Tokyo argues the process is “no longer sustainable” to maintain and promises people that “after treatment and dilution the ‘water is safe to release.’” (BBC, Aug. 24) Many people in the area are understandably skeptical.
More than a million metric tonnes of water stored at the nuclear plant is expected to be discharged over the next 30 years, and there are mixed feelings among scientists about this. Among those who are most supportive of Japan’s plan is the United Nations nuclear “watchdog” known as the International Atomic Energy Agency. Many more people oppose the plan, especially environmentalists and workers in the fishing industry who are familiar with the Pacific Ocean.
Socialist China – most vocal opponent to potentially hazardous plan
The People’s Republic of China has historically been the largest purchaser of seafood from Japan. In response to the wastewater discharge, China announced it would ban imports of Japanese seafood. Chinese officials stated the sanctions are necessary “to prevent the risk of radioactive contamination of food,” and they have also accused Japan of an “extremely selfish and irresponsible act that disregards the international public interest.” (CNN, Aug. 28)
China is a socialist country that openly opposed plans to release the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean from the very beginning, ever since the idea was introduced two years ago. Japan, on the other hand, is a capitalist country that is driven by profit, and as a result, ignores the concern for humanity that is shared by the government of China. Economic shareholders who are invested in the Japanese economy are now worried a boycott could cripple their profits.
Despite its attempts to be a voice of reason regarding consumer safety, the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China have faced retaliation from Western imperialists and their media lackeys after announcing a boycott of Japanese seafood. Several corporate media outlets have made the false allegation that China’s response is somehow filled with “disinformation,” ultimately ignoring any concerns over the consumption of contaminated fish.
Just as the Japanese government and its Western enablers accuse China of “disinformation,” the capitalist rulers of Washington and Tokyo are waging a major public relations campaign to convince people in the region that seafood from the Pacific Ocean will still be safe to consume after the release of wastewater.
In one desperate attempt to prove their point, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was recorded eating Fukushima fish sashimi at a press conference on Aug. 30. (AP, Aug. 30) The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, also had a seafood lunch photo op with the Fukushima mayor the following day. (AP, Aug. 31).
An attack on China is an attack on the working class
Under a centrally planned economic system, the Chinese government has led the way of green energy in recent years. For example, China generates more solar energy than all other countries combined, and its solar capacity is now 228 gigawatts. (The Guardian, July 6).
In addition to having a strong focus on environmental improvements, China has also prioritized bettering the material conditions of its citizens. In 2021, the Chinese government declared the success of its mission of lifting 770 million people out of poverty. (greennetwork.asia, Oct. 17, 2022)
These recent developments have enraged U.S. imperialists and Japanese capitalists. The public relations campaign desperately being waged by the U.S. and Japan is also an effort to discredit and undermine socialist China.
While thousands of workers in South Korea, Japan and China have demonstrated their fears over the wastewater discharge, the Chinese government is the only one that has sided with protesters and workers. South Korean and Japanese protesters were met with violent hostility by their governments, while protests targeting the leaders of Japan are welcome in China. As a result, the Chinese government is being vilified and attacked by imperialist powers.
The Chinese government advocates for the interests of the working class and the global oppressed, whereas the governments of the U.S., South Korea and Japan represent the material needs and desires of the employing class. Anyone concerned with the well-being of humanity and our ecosystem should defend China and stand in solidarity with workers in the Asia-Pacific region who are being threatened with a polluted ocean, poisoned water and contaminated seafood.