As Japan commences the controlled release of treated radioactive water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, residents in the affected region are taking steps to mitigate potential backlash. In the coastal town of Nahara, situated just 20 km from the crippled nuclear plant, residents are working to demonstrate the safety of the seawater by organizing a surfing competition at Iwasawa Beach.
The Iwasawa Surfing Games, held last Sunday (Aug 20), marked a significant milestone for the town. Approximately 190 surfers from across the country and abroad participated in the event, double the initial expectations of the organizers. Kentaro Yoshida, a native of Iwasawa and the driving force behind reviving the competition, highlighted the event’s importance in restoring the local community’s spirits after the disaster.
Yoshida, whose family runs hotels and an inn near the beach, witnessed the severe impact of the nuclear disaster on the local community. He viewed the competition’s revival as a way to commemorate the event’s 25-year history and uplift the community’s morale.
The surfers participating in the competition are not only showcasing their skills but also making a statement about the seawater’s safety. By surfing in the area, they aim to reassure the public that the water is safe for swimming, challenging apprehensions about potential contamination.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s release of treated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean has sparked both domestic and international criticism. China has labeled the move “extremely selfish” and has imposed bans on seafood imports from Japan. Local communities near the site and fishing groups are concerned about contamination and consumer aversion to seafood products.
In response to concerns, Japanese government officials, including Sorato Nakamura from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, are engaging with the public to explain the wastewater release and its minimal impact on humans and the environment.
The surfing competition’s success in Nahara signifies locals’ determination to overcome the stigma associated with Fukushima and the wastewater discharge. As the region grapples with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster, events like the surfing competition demonstrate the resilience and efforts of communities to rebuild confidence and rebuild their reputations.