China calls for attention of UN rights body on Japan's nuclear-contaminated water discharge

China's top diplomat in Geneva on Thursday called on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to pay more attention to Japan's nuclear-contaminated water discharge into the sea and urged Japan to immediately stop the release.

Chen Xu, head of the Chinese Mission to UN at Geneva, said during an interactive dialogue with Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, that if the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is truly safe, Japan wouldn't have to dump it into the sea – and certainly shouldn't if it is not.

Chen said the Japanese government "unilaterally and forcefully" started the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, which seriously violated the rights to health, development and environment of people in Pacific coastal countries and around the world.

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He further stressed that the legitimacy, legality and safety of the discharge have been questioned by the international community, and have been strongly opposed by people in Japan and South Korea.

The Fukushima nuclear accident is one of the world's most serious nuclear disasters to date. Hit by a massive earthquake and an ensuing tsunami in March 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered core meltdowns and generated a massive amount of contaminated water which is known to have more than 60 radioactive elements.

Ignoring the appeals of domestic fishermen, neighboring countries and worldwide environmental experts, Japan started releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean on August 24.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: Damaged reactors and tanks storing nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, January 19, 2023. /CFP)

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