*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purposes only.
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Press Conference Room, METI Main Building
Cabinet reshuffle and ALPS treated water
Q: First, it is said that the Cabinet will be reshuffled on September 13. What do you think at present? Are there any fields that the ministry would like to continue tackling, and would you like to continue serving as the minister? This is the first question.
Second, the first round of discharge of ALPS treated water was completed yesterday, September 11. How do you feel about this?
The suspension of imports of fishery products by China and other countries is continuing, so toward the second round of discharge and beyond, how will the government support relevant businesses? Could you explain your view on this issue?
A: I have heard that the Cabinet will be reshuffled tomorrow, but personnel affairs are under the prerogative of the Prime Minister, so I will refrain from making any comments.
However, I am currently in the position of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and will simply continue to fulfill my mission. I have worked hard for the growth and stability of Japan and would like to continue devoting myself to my duties.
The discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea commenced on August 24 and the first round of discharge of approximately 7,800 m3 of water in 10 tanks was completed yesterday, September 11.
The results of the monitoring conducted so far, which will be detailed later, show that the concentration of tritium is sufficiently low. It is far lower than the standard of less than 1,500 Bq/l, which is approximately one-seventh of 10,000 Bq/l, the WHO's standard for drinking water quality. Analysis results of the monitoring show extremely low figures, and I understand that the discharge was conducted safely.
The first round of discharge of 7,800 m3 was just completed, and three more rounds of discharge for the same amount are scheduled this fiscal year. The next discharge will be conducted based on on-site checking and the utmost efforts will continue to be made for ensuring safety. The amount of tritium to be discharged this fiscal year will be approximately 5 trillion Bq in total.
On the other hand, after the commencement of discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, China, Hong Kong and Macau have expanded and strengthened the suspension of imports of fishery products from Japan, as you pointed out. It is extremely regrettable, and the Government of Japan will continue to urge the immediate repeal of the suspension. We will also publish all data in a transparent manner and urge the immediate repeal of the suspension based on scientific evidence.
Now that the impact is actually emerging, the government published a policy package consisting of five pillars with a total budget of 100.7 billion yen by adding 20.7 billion yen from the reserve fund to the approximately 80 billion yen of funds that had already been budgeted. We would like to implement this policy package promptly to take all possible measures to support the fisheries industry across the country.
As you know, data are published every day. The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) has promptly published monitoring results every day since August 24. Once, a concentration of 10 Bq/l was detected at one point. However, the regulatory standard for discharge is below 1,500 Bq/l, as I mentioned earlier, and this is approximately one-seventh of the WHO's standard for drinking water quality. If a concentration of 700 Bq/l is detected within the 3-kilometer area or a concentration of over 30 Bq/l is detected within a radius of 10 kilometers, we have decided to suspend the discharge immediately. A concentration of 10 Bq/l was detected as of August 31, and from samples collected on August 30, concentrations of 1 Bq to 1.5 Bq/l were detected through a more accurate and stricter analysis. No concentrations of tritium were detected at four other points. From a sample collected at a point of 200 meters on August 24, a concentration of 2.6 Bq/l was detected, but that is also extremely low. Measured values for other points were all below the detection limit.
The Ministry of the Environment also conducts sampling and analysis, and the results have all been below the detection limit. The Fisheries Agency also conducts sampling and analysis in relation to fish every day, and the results have all been below the detection limit. The results of the analysis by Fukushima Prefecture have been the same.
The IAEA independently conducted sampling and analysis and published that the concentration of tritium was below the upper limit for drinking water, or below 700 Bq.
Other than tritium, TEPCO conducts sampling and analysis of cesium within the 3-kilometer area every day, and the results have all been below the detection limit.
Regarding gamma-ray emitting radionuclides, their concentrations, which are ascertained as the total of those for cesium and other radionuclides, have also been below the detection limit.
The Ministry of the Environment plans to conduct monitoring for strontium and other radionuclides, but it was confirmed that concentrations of radionuclides other than tritium all satisfied the regulatory standards before commencing the discharge. Accordingly, there will be no problem, but the Ministry of the Environment still plans to conduct monitoring for all those radionuclides.
The analysis results of the aforementioned monitoring have all been published promptly. We would like to robustly explain the safety of ALPS treated water domestically and internationally based on scientific evidence in a transparent manner.