China on Friday condemned a Japanese plan to release treated radioactive wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, demanding that Tokyo first receive the approval of neighbouring countries.
China has made similar complaints on a regular basis in the past, but has not said how it would respond if Japan goes ahead with the planned release.
China, which Japan invaded in the first half of the last century, has been a constant critic of Tokyo and its security alliance with the US, with the ruling Communist Party frequently invoking historical wrongs to rally domestic support and seek to undermine Japan's global standing.
“Japan's behaviour is extremely irresponsible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing Friday.
"I would like to stress that Japan's release of treated nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima plant concerns the global marine environment and public health, which is not a private matter for the Japanese side,” Mao said.
“Until full consultation and agreement is reached with neighbouring countries and other stakeholders and relevant international institutions, the Japanese side shall not initiate the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without authorization,” she said.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 12 years ago on March 11, 2011, destroying its power and cooling systems and triggering the meltdowns of three reactors. Massive amounts of radiation were released in the surrounding area.
South Korea, several Pacific Island nations and Japanese fishing communities have also objected to the planned release. Japanese officials and the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, say the radioactive elements in the water can be reduced to safe levels.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tetsuro Nomura has said he will work to counter any damage from the release to the reputation of the area's seafood industry.
“We will convey the safety of the fish caught in the Japanese sea with scientific evidence,” Japan's Kyodo News quoted Nomura as saying.