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South Korea’s attitude changes after U.S. says it ‘won’t get involved’ in Fukushima nuclear treatment?

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This handout photo taken on April 17, 2021 and provided by the US embassy in South Korea shows US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry (L) talking with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) before their dinner meeting at Chung's official residence in Seoul. (Photo by Handout / US embassy in South Korea / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / US embassy in South Korea" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Since Japan’s Decision On April 13th To Discharge Nuclear Waste Water From The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Into The Sea After Treatment, China, South Korea, Russia, North Korea And Other Countries Strongly Concerned, South Korea From The Bottom Up ProtestS, But The Country’S Foreign Minister On The 19th Seems To Change The Direction Of The Wind.

“If Japan can follow the standard procedures set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is no need for South Korea to insist on opposing it.” South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Yi-so said on the 19th. This is in contrast to the South Korean government’s previous “firm opposition” attitude and civil outcry.

During a parliamentary inquiry on the 19th, Zheng did not respond directly when asked if his “opposition to Japan’s sewage stance has changed,” Yonhap reported, but instead said, “We put the health and safety of our people first.” ”

Mr. Zheng’s comments came two days after he held talks with John Kerry, the visiting U.S. president’s special envoy for climate issues, and conveyed South Korea’s concerns about Fukushima’s wastewater entering the sea. But Kerry expressed confidence that the Japanese government has fully consulted with the International Atomic Energy Agency and ensured a transparent process.

Kerry’s statement was another boost after the U.S. State Department issued a statement Wednesday saying Japan “appears to have adopted an approach that meets globally recognized nuclear safety standards.”

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it had clarified its position to the U.S. side through multiple channels, but acknowledged that there were still significant differences with the U.S. position. Against the backdrop of U.S. support for Japan, the South Korean government may be aware of the difficulty of diplomatically allowing Japan to withdraw its nuclear waste water from the sea, according to South Korean media Korea Economics.

U.S. and South Korea “different tunes”

During a dinner with Kerry on the 17th, Zheng Yixuan expounded the concerns of South Koreans about Japan’s discharge of nuclear waste water into the sea and called on the U.S. side to cooperate on the issue, KBS reported.

“The United States will not be involved in Japan’s treatment of nuclear wastewater,” Kerry said at a news conference on the 18th. “The IAEA has a very rigorous (audit) process in place and I know that Japan has weighed all options and implications, and their decision-making and processing procedures are very transparent.”

After the press conference, South Korean media have published articles indicating that the United States and South Korea on the issue of Japan’s sewage differences. The next day, Zheng Yilu claimed that he “does not object to Japan’s compliance with the discharge of wastewater into the sea”, causing controversy in South Korean public opinion. Some South Korean netizens commented: ” (South Korea) should not bow to the United States.”

South Korean public opposition to Japan’s sewage is running high. According to KBS, fishermen in the South Korean city of Gyeong nam Juji held a sea demonstration on the 19th in more than 50 fishing boats, sailing around the coast of the old port of Shiloh, condemning the Japanese government’s decision to discharge nuclear waste water. In addition, a number of South Korean university students have recently occupied the road in front of the Japanese Embassy in South Korea, holding several consecutive protests, they said they will hold “indefinite demonstrations.”

At present, South Korea has shown a “conditional opposition” to the issue of Japanese sewage. On April 19, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs made three practical demands to Japan, namely, to fully provide scientific basis and share information, to conduct more adequate prior consultations, and to involve South Korean experts in the verification process of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Japan’s ambassador to South Korea, Yoshihiga Sakayo, said he was considering involving South Korea in the Fukushima nuclear waste water discharge monitoring and would consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency on related matters.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it will strive to put into public the potential problems that Japan’s move could cause through international multilateral diplomatic institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and to obtain results acceptable to the international community through scientific and objective verification.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency commented on the 19th that China is a strong reinforcement for the South Korean government in the absence of U.S. assistance. Wen’s administration has raised the banner of “double-sided diplomacy” with either side of the United States and China, and seems intent on taking the opportunity to strengthen relations with China.

What is America worried about?

“Are you concerned about the impact of wastewater discharges on the health of the American people?” 18, Kerry said at a news conference in Seoul, the United States will closely monitor the implementation of Japan’s sewage, “like every country, to ensure that (emissions) do not pose a public health threat.”

Asked if the U.S. would play a role in Japan’s discharge of nuclear waste water into the sea, Kerry said the U.S. government has no plans at the moment.

South Korean media said that the United States is actually not too concerned about the Fukushima nuclear waste water problem, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 4, said it believes that the discharge of nuclear waste water will not import food from Japan and seafood caught off the coast of the United States.

But in fact, the FDA revised its import warning in March to show that a range of Japanese food products are still banned from entering the United States. The announcement said authorities should detain Japanese products because of “radionuclide contamination.” Thus, the United States is wary of radioactive contamination.

The CommentarY Article Of The Korean National Daily On The 19th Said That The United States Made A Statement In Favor Of Japan Because Of Its Political And Strategic ConsiderationS, But Also Can Not Be SeparateD From Japan’S Diplomatic PreparationS. No State has the right to unilaterally promote or support decisions that remain uncertain in their own interests alone.

Ben Ascione, a researcher at the Japan Center for International Exchanges and an assistant professor of Asia-Pacific studies at Waseda University University’s University College, told The Associated Press that there was also a lot of debate in the U.S. over the Fukushima nuclear waste water discharge, and that the Biden administration was actually taking a step-by-step approach, as seen from the Japan-U.S. summit.

For the US, the real worry may not be at odds with South Korea and the international community, but with Japan and South Korea, two Asian allies. White House officials recently told NBC News that Japan-South Korea relations have deteriorated as a result of the nuclear waste water incident to this point, “let us have a headache, because Japan and South Korea political tensions prevent the United States from exerting influence in Northeast Asia.” ”

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