TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will on Monday meet fishing industry representatives in a bid to convince them of the safety of treated radioactive water due to be released from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.
The government is expected to decide soon when to start releasing the water, equivalent to 500 Olympic-size swimming pools, despite objections at home and abroad to the plan.
The water has mostly been used to cool nuclear reactors damaged in 2011 when tsunami waves crashed into the plant on the coast north of Tokyo after an earthquake.
The water has been treated to remove most radioactive elements except for tritium, a hydrogen isotope that must be diluted because it is difficult to filter.
Kishida, who visited the plant on Sunday, said last week his government was in the final stage of deciding when to begin the release.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month approved the government’s plan for the water, which it says it can no longer store on site.
Despite such assurances, the prospect of more than a million tons of water being pumped into the Pacific from the nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company has raised alarm.
China, in particular, has criticised it and banned some seafood imports. Citizens’ groups in Japan and South Korea are also up in arms.
Japanese Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura is due to meet the same fishing industry leaders before the Kishida meeting.
The government will convene a meeting of cabinet ministers on the issue on Tuesday morning, Kyodo news agency said.
(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama and Elaine Lies; writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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