10th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) Japan’s plan to release the treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean this summer has raised concerns over Hong Kong’s food safety. Secretary for Environment & Ecology Tse Chin-wan has repeatedly expressed concerns to the Japanese government and emphasised that if Japan follows through with the plan, the Hong Kong government will take action, including banning high-risk seafood from Japan and subjecting other seafood imports from Japan to radiation testing.
In a radio program, Tse Chin-wan stated that the release of nuclear wastewater would have a significant impact on the safety of fishery products. Although the Japanese government has claimed that the treated water is harmless, the release will last for 30 years, and the reliability of the treatment facilities and the possibility of accidents remain unknown. If Japan believes that the nuclear wastewater is safe, they could consider following Hong Kong’s approach of using the treated water for irrigation purposes.
Tse Chin-wan also mentioned that the Hong Kong Observatory will strengthen its monitoring of radiation levels in Hong Kong’s waters. If the incident affects public confidence in local seafood and the livelihoods of local fishermen, the government will provide assistance through the Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund.
Tse Chin-wan explained that the ban on Japanese food products in Hong Kong does not cover fruit juice. The surface of fruits absorbs radiation directly, but the flesh is less affected. Moreover, the dilution process of fruit juice reduces the risk of food contamination. He further stated that the Customs and Excise Department and the Centre for Food Safety will inspect the specific sources of Japanese food products and have the ability to ensure food safety. Tse Chin-wan also noted that currently, Japanese food imports only account for 0.2% of Hong Kong’s overall food supply, and the ban will not have a significant impact.