Japan embassy in S. Korea publishes radiation data on Fukushima and Seoul

Move intended to quash rumors of radiation-contaminated Japanese food products

File photo: Korean protester in front of Japanese Embassy in Seoul, August, 2019

File photo: Korean protester in front of Japanese Embassy in Seoul, August, 2019 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a move that is drawing mixed reactions from observers in Japan and South Korea, the Japanese Embassy in Seoul began to publish daily data on radiation levels in Fukushima on its official website starting Sept. 27.

In addition to radiation readings from Fukushima and other locations in Japan, however, the embassy is publishing readings taken in Seoul, South Korea, and displaying the data alongside those from Fukushima City, Iwaki City, and Tokyo. Japan’s intention is to defuse rumors regarding the radiation dangers posed by the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was the site of nuclear meltdowns after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

According to the data provided by the embassy, there is little difference in the radiation levels of Fukushima and Seoul. Interestingly, Seoul’s radiation levels are higher than those found in Tokyo and only slightly lower than those recorded in Fukushima.

Screenshot of embassy website showing readings for Fukushima (left), Iwaki City (center), Tokyo, and Seoul (right).

Reuters reports that South Korea is preparing to double the radiation testing of certain Japanese exports coming from Honshu region, which was most affected by the disaster. While some in South Korea claim there are serious contamination concerns, the Japanese government believes these fears have been exaggerated by groundless rumors and political motives.

The move may be seen by some as an escalation of the ongoing tensions between Japan and South Korea. Relations between the countries continue to deteriorate due to a diplomatic spat stemming from issues related to Japan’s forced labor practices in World War II and Seoul's decision to seize the assets of Japanese corporations as a form of reparations.

The World Nuclear Association says that the average levels of naturally occurring background radiation should be between 0.17-0.39 micro-Sieverts per hour, reports Reuters. NHK reports that the embassy will continue to publish the data on a daily basis, with the exception of Japanese national holidays, in order to prove that there is no significant difference between radiation levels in the two countries.