Panel discusses reputational damage to Fukushima

Japanese government officials have held their first working-group meeting to prevent reputational damage after a decision to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

The government set up the group, which consists mainly of sub-ministerial members, following the decision in April to start releasing treated water from the troubled plant into the ocean in about two years.

The group held its first meeting on Monday in Fukushima City. Senior officials from the prefecture and local businesses also took part.

Water used to cool molten nuclear fuel undergoes a treatment process that removes most radioactive material, but it still contains radioactive tritium.

Treated water will be diluted before discharge so the tritium concentration is well below national standards.

During the meeting, Fukushima Vice Governor Suzuki Masaaki urged the central government to take sufficient measures to prevent reputational damage to the prefecture. He pointed out the need to ensure that all seafood produced in Fukushima should be traded at appropriate prices so people in the industry can continue to be competitive.

The leader of a local chamber of commerce association said that businesses still suffer from reputational damage a decade after the nuclear accident. He called on the central government to consider measures to keep businesses motivated, such as buying up their products for a certain period of time rather than paying compensation later.

Some of the participants criticized the government for deciding to discharge treated water without fully discussing the issue and getting the understanding of local people.

The government plans to draw up a mid- to long-term action plan by the end of the year.