Hong Kong will take “rigorous measures” to restrict food imports from Japan if Fukushima’s nuclear wastewater is released into the sea, the city’s Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan says.

Secretary for the Environment, Mr Tse Chin-wan.
Secretary for the Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan (middle).

In an op-ed published on Thursday entitled “If nuclear wastewater is safe, why doesn’t Japan use it?”, Tse called the nation “irresponsible” for sticking to its decision to release nuclear wastewater into the ocean despite international opposition.

According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Japan is preparing to release 1.3 million tonnes of treated nuclear wastewater starting this year – 12 years after an accident sparked by a tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The environment chief, citing TEPCO, said the level of radioactivity in fish caught near the plant was found to be 180 times the maximum stipulated in Japan’s food safety law,

Tse said he has suggested to the Japanese consul in Hong Kong that if Tokyo is so confident the water is safe, then it should explore alternative options such as using it for irrigation.

A delegation of nuclear experts from Taiwan visit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on June 19, 2023.
A delegation of nuclear experts from Taiwan visit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on June 19, 2023. Photo: TEPCO.

Tse said Hong Kong was not heavily reliant on Japanese food imports, “but a lot of Hong Kong people like Japanese food, and Japanese restaurants are seen in every district, hence gatekeeping by the government is extremely important.”

An interdepartmental task force has been established, Tse said, and the Centre for Food Safety has strengthened radiation testing of food imported from Japan.

At Wednesday’s Legislative Council meeting, lawmakers Bill Tang and Joephy Chan urged the government to ban marine products and agricultural products from the Fukushima area.

Correction 4/7/2023: An earlier version of this article contained an image of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant with a caption incorrectly stating that it showed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We regret the error.

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Lea Mok is a multimedia reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously contributed to StandNews, The Initium, MingPao and others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.