The Korea Herald


In Seoul, opposition faults ‘Yoon’s leniency with Tokyo’

By Kim Arin

Published : Aug. 22, 2023 - 18:30

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Democratic Party leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung and the rest of the party stage a rally condemning Yoon policy toward Tokyo on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Democratic Party leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung and the rest of the party stage a rally condemning Yoon policy toward Tokyo on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s political opponents on Tuesday mounted an attack on his “leniency with Tokyo,” as Japan announced it would begin releasing treated radioactive water stored at the now-defunct Fukushima nuclear power plant in two days.

The Democratic Party of Korea blasted Yoon and his policy toward Tokyo as having given Japan the impetus to go forward with its plan to discharge the treated wastewater from the nuclear power plant ruined by a tsunami in 2011.

Yoon’s onetime presidential rival and Democratic Party head Rep. Lee Jae-myung, convening an emergency general meeting of the entire party the same day, said the South Korean administration was “bent on giving Japan a pass in its decision to dump the wastewater in the ocean.”

“Japan ended up declaring a decision that would wreak the worst damage on the environment. In Japan’s unacceptable decision, the Yoon administration played an accomplice and cannot be without blame,” the opposition leader said.

Lee said Yoon “blew the last chance to stop the ocean dumping of wastewater” at the Camp David summit with the US and Japan last week.

“Our president’s endless leniency with Japan is what led to this moment,” he said, warning of demonstrations and other actions against the administration.

In a message sent Tuesday, the Democratic Party called on its supporters for collective action condemning the Yoon administration.

“The Democratic Party is staging a party-led candlelight vigil to denounce the Yoon Suk Yeol administration and Japan over the dumping of the contaminated water into the ocean, which threatens the health and safety of South Koreans,” the message to party supporters read. “We solicit your participation in the action to stop the dumping of radioactive water.”

A delegation of Democratic Party lawmakers, headed by Rep. Woo Won-shik who went on a 15-day hunger strike against the wastewater plan, staged a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul calling on Tokyo to scrap its plan. The lawmakers said they tried to deliver the resolution urging Japan to drop its plan, signed by the entire Democratic Party, but the embassy had refused to accept it.

The ruling People Power Party said in response that South Korea’s own safety review would be undertaken as the wastewater, which will be treated and diluted, is released over decades.

Rep. Kang Min-kuk, the ruling party’s chief spokesperson, said in a statement that the South Korean government respects the final verdict of the International Atomic Energy Agency that found Japan’s plan to be in alignment with safety standards.

He accused the Democratic Party of engaging in fearmongering and taking the opportunity to advance domestic political motives at the expense of public anxiety.

“The ruling party, together with the Yoon administration, will continue to prioritize the health and safety of South Korean people. Our experts are a part of the IAEA efforts to ascertain the safety of the wastewater’s discharge. We have established a hotline with the team of experts for real-time monitoring and information sharing,” he said.