By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government has declined to ask Japan to move up the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, an official said Friday, disputing a media report that the request was linked to curtailing the potential effects on the upcoming general elections.
Earlier, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper had reported that the Seoul government and the ruling party had informally proposed to Tokyo to launch the release as soon as possible, prior to April 2024’s parliamentary elections.
“It is not true that our government has requested an early release from the Japanese side,” said Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, during a daily briefing on the Fukushima issue.
Park also said South Korea has asked Japan to provide advanced notice before the discharge when the two countries held a third round of director-general-level talks on Wednesday via video conference to discuss Seoul’s requests about the release plan.
“One of the main points discussed in the working-level consultations was the need for enough time before the release and for notification to be given to our side,” Park said.
Park also declared that the government would reveal the outcome of the talks within the upcoming week.
The two countries have held three rounds of talks to decide on measures after President Yoon Suk Yeol asked Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to include South Korean experts in monitoring the Fukushima water release.
During the meeting held on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Lithuania in July, Yoon also asked that the discharge be halted immediately if the concentration of radioactive material in the water exceeds standard levels and that Japan promptly inform South Korea.
Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, speaks at a daily briefing on Aug. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)