Illustration: Chen Xia/GT
The Japanese government “is poised to” release polluted water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, according to Kyodo News. Such an extremely irresponsible act has been strongly criticized by China and other neighboring countries of Japan. However, most major Western media outlets have remained silent on Japan’s decision that will influence health of hundreds of millions of people. For many Western elites, it seems that their so-called environmental concern is ideologically biased. Environmental protection is just an ideological tool for them to suppress rival countries.
Dumping nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean will cause infinite harm to the entire human race and the ecological environment on which the world depends. “It is a move that will have serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment, locally and much further afield,” according to report from environmental rights organization Greenpeace.
Japan’s neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, will be the first to suffer from the serious pollution and it is also difficult for Western countries to stay aloof from the affair. As the world’s oceans are connected, more countries will also be harmed by the nuclear wastewater sooner or later.
Such an apparently wicked act has not been jointly condemned by Western countries, and mainstream Western media which hold great international discourse power have not criticized Tokyo on a large scale.
It’s a sharp contrast to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The Soviet Union was heavily attacked by the Western media back then and the West also used the disaster to instigate anti-Soviet Union sentiment. Today, Japan’s radioactive wastewater may remain dangerous for thousands of years and may even cause human DNA changes, according to Greenpeace. The Western media’s collective silence at this time has formed a sharp contrast
“In Western countries’ view, Japan is an important ally of the US in Asia. Japan is consistent with Western political and economic systems and values. Therefore, the West often has a good impression of Japan’s moves,” Zhou Yongsheng, professor of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Western elites have always claimed to uphold high environmental protection standards, and they often use environmental issues to criticize China. Some of their accusations even sound ridiculous. For example, Time magazine published an article in January entitled “How China could change the world by taking meat off the menu,” targeting China’s rising meat consumption and trying to label China as a destroyer of the environment. However, Western media has been downplaying the US livestock industry’s “contribution” to global warming.
Compared with meat consumption, Japan’s releasing of polluted water into the Pacific will endanger the health of mankind. But Western media has lost their voice. “Western countries generally favor Japan and they are not even willing to criticize Japan’s wrong moves. This is not an objective stand at all,” Zhou said.
The Pacific is about to become the ocean of Japanese sewage. Relevant international organizations and media should have strengthened supervision on Japan, urged Japan to regularly release the status of nuclear sewage treatment and disclose the facts to the world to form a broader global consensus.
Although Japan has claimed that the wastewater will be diluted to meet international standards before any release, environmental protection agencies have questioned this. Greenpeace said in its report that Tokyo Electric Power Company and Japanese government bodies “appear to have conspired to make the crisis worse.” And considering Japan’s poor performance in the COVID-19 fight, there are reasons to doubt the Japanese government’s wastewater handling.