Opinion | Japan's second invasion against Asia from the sea
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
Memories of Japan's war brutalities against Asians are still raw. In China alone, more than 35 million people perished during its last savage invasion. The terrible toll devastated China for generations, but at least it's over. Not so with Japan's second wave of terror against its Asian and Pacific neighbors--dumping so-called treated radioactive wastewater into the ocean. Uranium 238, for example, is said to have a half-life of over 4.5 billion years. It will haunt humanity and Asian countries in particular for all eternity.
Japan claims that the treated discharge meets IAEA standards and is therefore safe. If so, why not dump its full load of over a million metric tons into its own lakes, rivers, or soil, especially since the soil around Fukushima is already contaminated? Why make your neighbors pay for your misfortune? Its beggar-thy-neighbor attitude is breathtakingly arrogant.
Many scientists, including Greenpeace experts, remain skeptical of Japan's assurances. The nationalized corporation, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), responsible for the discharge of nuclear wastewater has been scandal-plagued and caught falsifying safety reports, and known for its lack of transparency. Why should we trust it now, when we are facing an existential threat?
Like the genie out of the bottle, the discharge cannot be put back in. No science can reverse its effects. It is the irreversibility that is so frightening.
Fukushima's nuclear disaster staggered Japan in 2011. Now, it wants its Asian neighbors to share and suffer its aftermath. Cunningly, Japan has enlisted the support of the US, its puppy master. The last time the US stood by while Japan overran the continent was in World War II. America's sea distance from Japan is over 10,000 kilometers, seemingly a long way from harm's way. (If the US were geographically in China's location, it wouldn't support Japan's irresponsible move. Japan definitely wouldn't dare to defy the US.) But what if the nuclear wastewater were carried to Hawaii by the cross-Pacific Kuroshio current? That would be like Pearl Harbor all over again. But this time, there would be no defense or victory.
Japan does not have sovereignty over the Pacific Ocean. It belongs to all humanity. Neither does IAEA. Science does not yet have all the answers to concerns over its long-term impact on the ocean bed, marine and human life. Japan therefore needs full consent from all its neighbors, if it plans to tamper with the ocean. Without it, it is an illegal invasion by the sea—a kamikaze attack against humanity, a war crime.
China, for one, has responded swiftly, banning seafood from Japan, joined by Hong Kong SAR with a limited ban. The long queues in the city for safe-to-eat sushi say it all. Some 50,000 South Korean protesters stormed the Japanese embassy. Malaysia is also on the move.
Mainland China and Hong Kong absorb more than half of Japan's seafood exports. This is the thin end of the wedge. Worse is yet to come. Chinese citizens now demand that Japanese imports be banned across-the-board. In a single day after Japan's fateful decision, over 800 million netizens called for more drastic retaliations.
But in Taiwan, its trade representative in Japan, Hsieh Chang-ting, shamelessly suggested that drinking water that is slightly radioactive may in fact be good for your health. Well, I hope he takes his own advice, drink it daily and smile all the way to heaven, or wherever he deserves to go.
Japanese fishermen in coastal communities fear that their reputation for safe sea products is trashed forever. Loss of livelihood looms. Domestically and internationally, Japan is staring into a wall of angry opposition.
The radioactive wastewater is stored in 1000 tanks. After 12 years, why the urgency to free up space? Why not search for safer solutions with new technology?
As fear spreads, tempers flare. Protestors now call Japan's irresponsible actions a crime against humanity. The sheer scale and eternity of the nuclear curse justifies this accusation.
The fallout, comes in economic misery, diplomatic damage and endangering a way of life for those who live or play by the sea. Don't forget international lawsuits. The only language Japan understands is self-interest, being liable for any future destruction to marine ecology or damage to the economy of any Pacific country or the health of its citizens. Getting the greenlight from America doesn't give you immunity from your environmental misdeeds.
So, Japan's headaches are only just beginning. This is no simple dump-and-done act. Despite US and South Korean connivance. Japan will be on the hook. Its not-so-smart politicians, misled by a bunch of bumbling TEPCO executives, are gambling away their country's brand. Japan's day of reckoning is coming.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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