Fishing boats are seen at Ukedo port with a backdrop of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Namie town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, April 13, 2021. (YUSUKE OGATA / KYODO NEWS VIA AP)
TOKYO - The Japanese government will purchase marine products as an emergency measure to support fishermen if the planned discharge of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea brings damage to their sales, local media reported Tuesday.
The decision to allow the discharge of treated radioactive water has triggered an outcry from local fishermen and neighboring countries, although the Japanese government said it would not cause any safety issues.
We will make thorough efforts to prevent reputational damage being caused and will create an environment where (fishermen) can continue operations feeling assured even if reputational damage occurs.
Katsunobu Kato, Japan's chief cabinet secretary
Government officials said that under a plan compiled to help fishermen threatened by reputational damage, the government is looking at establishing a flexibly operating fund to buy marine products from Fukushima Prefecture and other parts of Japan.
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After the Japanese government's decision in April to start releasing the water from around spring of 2023, fishermen called on the government to come up with detailed measures to protect the reputation of marine products.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a meeting for the plan, "We will make thorough efforts to prevent reputational damage being caused and will create an environment where (fishermen) can continue operations feeling assured even if reputational damage occurs."
If demands of Japan-produced marine products drop sharply in both domestic and overseas markets, the government will temporarily purchase and store frozen products or support fishermen to expand sales channels for products that cannot be frozen, the officials said, adding that the size and details of the envisaged fund are yet to be determined.
The government will instruct Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO), the operator of the nuclear plant, to show a detailed framework for compensation at an early date as a safety net, which prevents fishermen from incurring losses even though they thoroughly implement measures against reputational damage, they said.
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Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of TEPCO, also attended the meeting. He told reporters that he and his company will "seriously" respond to the government's instruction and will come up with compensation plans for the water release "as early as possible".
By the end of this year, the Japanese government plans to compile a medium- and long-term action plan that covers the period after the discharge of the treated water, and it will continue getting opinions from related parties to add necessary measures, the officials said.
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