Japan will begin discharging the nuclear-contaminated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea on August 24, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday.
The decision was made during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after two years of "careful deliberation," Kishida said, adding that he has already instructed Tokyo Electric Power Company to carry out the plan.
In a bid to placate fears about damaged reputation to food safety among the fishing industry in the Pacific, Kishida vowed to protect the community's interests, boost domestic demand and expand the overseas market.
The discharge plan was determined last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have met international standards, but IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has said the institution does not endorse dumping nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.
Scientists, legal experts and government officials from neighboring countries have challenged the report's validity and fiercely protested the plan over concerns about negative environmental effects.
Critics say the IAEA report had serious limitations in its scope, as the authors were only allowed to assess a plan already decided by the Japanese government, excluding the examination of other options such as geological injection, steam release, hydrogen release and underground burial.
The discharge of Fukushima water into the ocean lacks international precedents and should not be approved by the IAEA alone, Zhang Yanqiang, an international law professor and director of the Institute for Yellow Sea and Bohai Studies at Dalian Maritime University, told CGTN in a previous interview.
"The matter is under the purview of international law, meaning it should be concerning a host of international bodies such as the International Maritime Organization, which has a mandate to address environmental concerns, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and even human rights organizations," Zhang explained.