Germany's environment minister on Sunday slammed the expression that Japan's release of treated nuclear-tainted water into the ocean was "welcomed" as the Group of Seven (G7) ministers' meeting concluded in Sapporo, local media reported.
Steffi Lemke, Germany's Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, made the remarks when attending a press conference after the two-day G7 Ministers' Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment, which was also attended by Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.
At the press conference jointly held by Japan, Germany, and Italy, Nishimura said that the steady decommissioning progress including the release of treated water into the ocean "will be welcomed," Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.
The Japanese government in January announced its controversial plan to release radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the country's northeast into the Pacific Ocean will start to be carried out "in the spring or summer."
"I respect the efforts made by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant) and the Japanese government after the nuclear accident, but we cannot welcome the release of the treated water," Lemke was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
According to the newspaper, Nishimura told the media after the press conference that he "made a little mistake" by "including everything in the 'welcome'."
The joint communique issued after the meeting noted the G7 nations welcome the steady progress of decommissioning work at the site and Japan's transparent efforts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based on scientific evidence.
"We support the IAEA's independent review to ensure that the discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water will be conducted consistent with IAEA safety standards and international law and that it will not cause any harm to humans and the environment, which is essential for the decommissioning of the site and the reconstruction of Fukushima," said the communique.
The joint statement failed the Japanese government's earlier expectations for G7 nations' endorsement of its latest wastewater discharge plan with restrained expressions, according to the newspaper.
Struck by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and an ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered core meltdowns that released radiation, resulting in a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
The plant has been generating a massive amount of water tainted with radioactive substances from cooling down the nuclear fuel in the reactor buildings, which are now being stored in about 1,000 storage tanks.