August 31, 2023 | 11:18 a.m
Japan’s prime minister ate fish from the ocean off the coast of Fukushima to allay safety concerns amid a growing row over the release of radioactive water, sparking comparisons to The Simpsons.
Fumio Kishida and three of his ministers sat in front of cameras at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Wednesday for a meal he described as “safe and delicious” fish — flounder sashimi, octopus and sea bass — from Fukushima.
“Very well,” said Mr. Kishida. bundled cameras.
Social media users immediately noticed the similarity to the famous episode of the second season of the TV show where Mr. Burns is introduced A fish with three eyes mutated by radioactive waste.
“Possibly the craziest Simpsons moment predicting real life yet,” one user wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Another said: “At first it was a tragedy, then a farce.”
It comes days after sewage from the region’s crippled nuclear plant leaked into the Pacific Ocean, sparking an escalating row with China, which last week banned all seafood imports from its neighbour.
The water release, which began on Thursday and is expected to take decades, has angered Beijing despite the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency declaring the process safe.
On Tuesday, Tokyo demanded that China ensure the safety of Japanese citizens, after it reported that a stone had been thrown at its embassy in Beijing.
As tensions rose, Japan urged tens of thousands of its citizens in China to keep a low profile and beefed up security around schools and diplomatic missions.
The Japanese foreign minister on Tuesday confirmed media reports that his mission had been bricked, and repeated Kishida’s calls for China to calm the situation.
“We would like to once again urge the Chinese government to immediately take appropriate measures, such as calling on its citizens to act calmly to prevent the situation from escalating, and to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Japanese residents and our diplomatic missions in China.” Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in Tokyo.
He added that China should “provide accurate information” about the Fukushima water leak “instead of unnecessarily raising people’s concerns by providing information without any scientific basis.”
In Beijing, a Japanese embassy spokesman told AFP that staff were “extremely concerned.”
“Some individuals came to our (embassy) entrance,” the spokesman said. “They took this kind of action, and then the armed police took them away.”
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday that Beijing “protects the safety” of foreigners in China, rejecting “the so-called concerns of the Japanese side.”
He added: “Ignoring the strong suspicions and opposition from the international community, the Japanese government unilaterally and forcibly began to drain the polluted water caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident, which aroused great indignation among the people of all countries.”
“This is the root cause of the current situation.”
Analysts say China’s sharp criticism of the Fukushima release is partly due to its geopolitical and economic rivalry with Japan.
On Sunday, Japan’s Foreign Ministry urged its citizens in China to “be careful in their speech and behavior… and not to speak Japanese unnecessarily or too loudly.”
It was also reported that eggs and stones were thrown at Japanese schools in China. Japanese residents in China have expressed concerns about X.
“I’m a bit scared…we have to worry about our kids getting hurt because of something we can’t control. I don’t know what to think,” tweeted Miki, a Japanese woman living in Shanghai, according to her profile.
A range of businesses in Japan, from bakeries to aquariums, were also reported to have been subjected to thousands of spam calls that included abusive and racist language.
Chinese social media users posted recordings and videos of the calls, some of which have attracted tens of thousands of likes.
China revolts because of Japan’s “selfish” behavior.
Japan began releasing softened sewage enough for more than 500 Olympic swimming pools from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, 12 years after a tsunami destroyed three reactors in one of the world’s worst atomic accidents.
The plant’s operator, Tepco, says all radioactive elements have been filtered except for tritium, whose levels are within safe limits and below those released by nuclear power plants during normal operation, including in China.
Test results taken from seawater and fish samples near the factory since the unloading began confirm this, according to Japanese authorities.