APRIL 20 SOUTH KOREA’S FOREIGN MINISTER ZHENG YILU SAID THURSDAY THAT IF JAPAN DEALS WITH THE STANDARDS SET BY THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, SOUTH KOREA WILL NOT HAVE TO INSIST ON OPPOSING JAPAN’S DISCHARGE INTO THE SEA. The comments contrasted sharply with the South Korean government’s earlier “zero tolerance” stance, which has been controversially questioned about South Korea’s softening of its stance towards Japan. On the 20th, Zheng Yilu stressed his firm opposition to Japan’s discharge into the sea and explained his controversial remarks.
According to Yonhap News Agency, Zheng Yilu attended the same day the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee emergency question-and-answer session. Referring to the controversial remarks, he explained that some people think that the South Korean government is all opposed to Japan-related issues, but this is not the case, so he has the relevant statement, intended to emphasize that if the Japanese initiative can really meet the “relevant conditions”, South Korea may not have to insist on opposition.
Zheng said the “relevant conditions” include: Japan must provide South Korea with a scientific basis to ensure the safety and health of South Korean nationals, advance consultations with the ROK, to ensure the participation of South Korean experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification process.
Zheng also said that according to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, only the United States is currently positive about Japan’s emissions decision. The Foreign Ministry has asked the US to explain the scientific basis for its use of the term “treated water” rather than “polluted water” and the basis on which Japan’s decision was transparent and in line with global safety standards. He said that the 18th meeting with the U.S. President’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, at that time has asked the U.S. side to clarify its position, has not yet received a reply.
Zheng said Japan’s emissions decision could have disastrous consequences for Pacific Rim countries, and South Korea’s Foreign Ministry will actively promote South Korea’s position to those countries and put japan’s decision into law on the international stage. He also noted that the issue was difficult to resolve in a “quiet diplomatic” manner. South Korea’s foreign ministry began studying options such as suing Japan before the International Court of Justice as early as 2018 after Japan announced it was considering draining the Fukushima nuclear sewage into the sea. If Japan fails to comply with its obligations under international law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may initiate legal proceedings.