Crank calls and Stone Throwing: Chinese harassment strikes Japan over Fukushima Water Release

China and Japan have traded accusations of harassment, including nuisance phone calls, amid a dispute over the release of water from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

HONG KONG – After the release treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima Nuclear Plant, Japan urged China intervene to stop what it called a wave of harassment against its citizens. This included nuisance phone calls, and even stone throwing.

Japanese officials claim that thousands of harassing, and at times abusive, phone calls have been received by schools, businesses, and government offices across the country. The calls appear to be coming from China, where government officials have expressed their strong opposition to water release, and inflamed public anger.

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing, and a Japanese School in the Chinese coastal town of Qingdao have both been attacked with stones.

Aug. 24, 202302:01

The situation was “extremely regrettable,” Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Haiashi said on Tuesday. He urged Beijing, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of Japanese citizens in China as well as diplomatic missions.

Japan summoned on Monday the Chinese ambassador. The Prime Minister Fumio Kishhida said that he “strongly” requested him to urge Chinese citizens to behave “calmly, responsibly and with dignity.”

The Japanese Embassy had previously advised Japanese citizens to avoid loudly speaking Japanese in public, especially in China where there were violent anti-Japan demonstrations.

On Tuesday, police and security personnel stood outside the entrance to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Pedro Pardo / AFP – Getty Images

Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said on Monday that he had no knowledge of any reports of harassing calls being made from China to Japan. He also stated that foreigners were safe in China.

He said that China protects and guarantees the safety, legal rights and interests of all foreigners in China according to laws.

The Japanese diplomatic missions at Beijing and Qingdao have not responded to an immediate request for comments.

Hayashi also criticised a Chinese prohibition on all seafood imported from Japan and said Tokyo could take this issue to the World Trade Organization.

He said that China should not be concerned unnecessarily by unscientific data.

China announced its ban on Thursday, just a few days after Fukushima Daiichi’s operator began slowly releasing 1.3 million tons of radioactive treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Officials claim that the release of water is needed for decommissioning the plant. A 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami in 2011, which triggered a triple meltdown, was the worst nuclear accident in the world since 1986’s Chernobyl incident.

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