Old nuclear coolant from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan began leaking into the Pacific Ocean last week. Radiation levels are so low, this procedure has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But the reaction of many in East Asia is one of anxiety, and in China in particular, an explosion of fear and anger.
– We have countless alerts about harassment that seems to be coming from China, for example stones being thrown at the Japanese Embassy and Japanese schools, says Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
– We have summoned the Chinese ambassador today and strongly urged him to ask the Chinese to act calmly and responsibly.
Heap up the salt
The harassment is said to have consisted of, among other things, “bus calls”. The mock calls have since been posted on Chinese platforms, commented on or appreciated in some cases by tens of thousands of users.
Over the weekend, Japanese authorities issued a recommendation to citizens in China to keep a low profile in public and not to speak Japanese aloud.
The topic is also affecting trade, with the focus on food since China halted all fish imports from Japan.
An unexpected side effect is that common salt is now being stockpiled in various places in China, according to media reports. The explanation appears to be partly due to unwarranted fears that future shipments of salt from the Pacific might be ‘contaminated’ with Fukushima waters, and partly to an unjustified belief that iodized salt can protect against radiation sickness.
One of China’s state salt suppliers has come out and called for calm. The Hong Kong regional government stresses that there is plenty of salt, so there is no reason for panic buying.
“their atomic shock”
But once something starts popping up online, it’s hard to stop. Another example is flyers on the theme of Godzilla, the classic Japanese movie monster.
“By releasing the nuclear-contaminated waters of Fukushima into the sea, Japan is unleashing Godzilla, the embodiment of its atomic shock, on the world,” says a video released by Xinhua and the Chinese Consul General in Belfast, among others. Zhang Meifang, on Xformerly Twitter.
It is estimated that the water now being released from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant gives a radiation dose of 0.04 microSv per year to those who eat a lot of fish from the area. A person who never eats fish is not expected to ingest radioactive material from the discharge.
It’s minuscule compared to the radiation we all take in naturally: on average more than 1,000 microsieverts per year.
Traveling back and forth to the USA, for example, means you get a radiation dose of about 100 microsieverts.
Source: Radiation Safety Authority
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