Japan has said that it will start releasing into the sea more than 1 million metric tons of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant on August 24, 2023.
The plan has received heavy criticism from the Chinese government.
The plans to release the water were commissioned and approved two years ago for decommissioning the plant.
The plant was rendered hazardous in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami disasters.
The release will be 7,800 cubic meters of water over about 17 days, starting Thursday. There will be keen monitoring during the release.
The UN nuclear body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), approved the release in July by the Japanese government. Neighbouring countries, namely China and South Korea, do not agree with the decision. They have urged Japan to look for alternatives because of their scepticism about the effects it may have on the fish.
South Korea and China remain the biggest importers of Japanese fish. The two countries have already banned fish originating from Fukushima.
Japan has followed global guidelines on treating the water and filtered all harmful materials except one.
The water being released will contain a minimal level of a chemical called tritium. The release of tritium has been done before by nuclear plants in the UK. Consequently, Japan released tritium into the ocean before the nuclear disaster.
The Japanese broadcaster Fuji News Network (FNN) held a survey of the release; 56% agreed to release the water, while 37% were against it.
South Korea released a statement agreeing with the science behind the water treatment but not the decision to release the water into the ocean.
Hong Kong authorities have termed the decision careless and will subsequently implement controls on its imports to meet their required criteria.
Despite global uncertainty, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida maintained that an “accurate understanding” of the release was spreading.
Looking ahead, Japan plans to closely monitor seawater and fish and conduct tests around the plant.
The water lease is expected to last 30 to 40 years.