Japan fishermen oppose 'catastrophic' release of Fukushima water to ocean

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese fishing industry officials on Thursday urged the government not to allow tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant to be released at sea, saying it would ruin years of work to restore their reputation.
Tokyo Electric has collected more than a million tons of contaminated water since the facility was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The water is stored in huge tanks that overfill the site and it is said that it will run out of storage space by 2022.
"We are dead to the release of contaminated water into the ocean as it could have catastrophic effects on the future of the Japanese fishing industry," said Hiroshi Kishi, President of JF Zengyoren, at a meeting with government officials.
JF Zengyoren is a national association of Japanese fishing cooperatives.
Earlier this year, a group of experts advising the Japanese government on the disposal of radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima facility recommended its release into the ocean.
The Japanese Ministry of Industry, which has been hearing views since April, invited fisheries officials to a seventh round of such hearings.
"We firmly oppose the release of contaminated water into the ocean as it will clearly damage our reputation," said Toshihito Ono, head of fish wholesalers and processors in Fukushima Prefecture.
Any publication could lead other countries to tighten import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, reversing the recent trend of easing, said Kishi of JF Zengyoren.
Neither representative suggested any alternatives, but Kishi asked the government to consider further and obtain as much information as possible before making its decision.
Minister of State for Economy, Trade and Industry, Kiyoshi Ejima, said the government will take their views into account and make a responsible decision.
"We have to make a decision as soon as possible as this is a top priority issue," he told reporters after the meeting, but did not give a timeframe.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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