Japan minister hints at more aid for fisheries after water release reaction

Japan's industry minister has hinted that more assistance is coming for the country's fishery businesses hit by China's suspension of Japanese seafood imports.

Nishimura Yasutoshi was speaking to reporters on Friday, a day after Prime Minister Kishida Fumio instructed relevant ministers to compile emergency relief measures for the fisheries industry by early next week.

China suspended all Japanese seafood imports last week, following Japan's release of treated and diluted water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Nishimura said two funds that add up to 80 billion yen, or about 550 million dollars, have already been earmarked to deal with reputational damage and other impact from the water release.

He said the government will speedily provide subsidies to affected businesses, as well as consider the use of the funds more flexibly.

Nishimura also said the government is looking into whether there are any other measures that can be taken. He added that his ministry will steadily work with the Fisheries Agency to take necessary measures for the fisheries industry.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a triple meltdown in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Water used to cool molten fuel at the plant has been mixing with rain and groundwater.

The accumulated water is treated to remove most radioactive substances, but still contains tritium.

Before releasing the treated water into the sea, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, dilutes it to reduce tritium levels to about one-seventh of the World Health Organization's guidelines for drinking water.

Since the start of the treated water discharge, tritium concentrations in seawater samples have been below the detectable level in multiple checks conducted by the TEPCO, the Environment Ministry and Fukushima Prefecture.