TOKYO—Japan said Tuesday it would release water with low levels of radiation from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea despite opposition from a local fishing industry struggling to recover from the impact of 2011 meltdowns.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. , is running out of storage space for more than a million cubic tons of the water, which contains a radioactive isotope of hydrogen called tritium.
Government officials said the level of radiation was a tiny fraction of what people are exposed to in everyday life and Japan’s move followed standard practice among other global nuclear operators.
Dealing with the water “is an issue we cannot avoid in proceeding with the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi,” said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in announcing the move. He called the water release a practical solution and said the government would “ensure safety far in excess of standards.”
Representatives of the fishing industry said they feared reputational damage for Fukushima seafood. The decision “tramples on the feelings of people in the fishing industry around the nation,” said Hiroshi Kishi, head of the national fisheries cooperative group. The government said Tokyo Electric Power would pay compensation if bad publicity from the water release hurt seafood sales.