BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, AFP) - China is ratcheting up pressure over Japan's plan to release treated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, calling on government officials to drink the liquid to prove its safety.
"Japanese politicians said treated wastewater is 'innocent', why don't they drink, cook & wash clothes with the water first?" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Twitter on Thursday (April 15).
When questioned on Friday about the comments, Japan Finance Minister Taro Aso sidestepped queries and said Fukushima water contamination levels are below international guideline limits.
Tokyo's plan to release the treated water into the Pacific Ocean announced on Tuesday has been harshly criticised by China, Taiwan, South Korea and North Korea.
Mr Aso has said the water seemed safe enough to drink.
China on Thursday summoned Japan's ambassador over Tokyo's "wrong decision" to release more than one million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.
Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao "lodged solemn representations" with Ambassador Hideo Tarumi and accused Japan of "suspected violation of international law", the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Mr Wu urged Japan to hold off from disposing of the water "before reaching a consensus with stakeholders and international organisations", calling the decision "not what a modern civilised country should do".
The US State Department indicated that the plan appears to be in line with global discharge standards. The International Atomic Energy Agency supported the planned releases, which wouldn't start for another two years and are expected to last decades.
The US Food and Drug Administration maintains import restrictions on some food products from Fukushima due to potential radioactive contamination, according to the prefecture's website.
There have long been calls to prove the safety of the treated groundwater that's flowed through the wrecked Fukushima plant. A ruling-party official drank a glass of water in 2011 collected from inside the reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi facility in a bid to back government claims that decontamination efforts were progressing.