THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 4, 2021 at 15:30 JST
Numerous tanks containing contaminated water from the stricken reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant occupy a large portion of the site's premises in October. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Fifty-five percent of voters in a survey expressed opposition to the government’s plan to release treated contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the sea, while 32 percent support the measure.
The Asahi Shimbun survey also found that more than 80 percent of respondents fear the reputation of local seafood would be hurt if the treated water were discharged.
The government is moving to release tons of water from the stricken facility situated on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan because the plant's capacity to store radioactive water on its premises is projected to reach its limit in summer 2022.
This will be accomplished by removing most of the extremely hazardous radioactive substances and diluting the polluted water sufficiently so that it comfortably clears the government’s safety standards for disposal.
However, local fishermen and the national federation of fishermen’s groups, along with local municipalities, all staunchly oppose discharging the water.
Fifty percent of voters supporting the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and 47 percent of Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party are against the plan, outnumbering those who favor it, the survey showed.
By gender, men were sharply divided over the question, with 44 percent endorsing it and 46 percent opposing the plan.
But 62 percent of women took exception to it, compared with 22 percent who approved of the plan.
Asked whether the image of local seafood would be adversely affected after the water is released, 42 percent said they were “deeply concerned” about the matter, while 44 percent replied they were “somewhat concerned.”
The ratio of those who were “not concerned so much” came to 9 percent. Those who were “not concerned at all” stood at 2 percent.
But the survey also showed that 68 percent of voters backing the discharge said it will undermine the reputation of local seafood.
With regard to the government’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to date, 67 percent gave the thumbs down and 20 percent rated its performance highly.
Among supporters of the LDP, 56 percent had a low opinion of the government’s approach.
The survey also showed that 64 percent of respondents who took exception to government’s response were against the planned discharge of treated contaminated water into the sea.
The survey was conducted from November to December by sending questionnaires to 3,000 eligible voters nationwide selected at random. There were 2,126 valid responses, or 71 percent of the total.
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