Release of radioactive water made at request of U.S.: Cabinet adviser

SEOUL — Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata, who serves as a special adviser to the Cabinet, claimed in a recent lecture given in Seoul that the dumping of low-level radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean followed a “strong request” from the United States, a person who attended the lecture said Wednesday.

The release of the water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last month generated anxiety about the possible spread of radioactive contamination from the seaside power station.

The Japanese government had apparently given its permission for the release of the water after receiving a report from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Hirata’s remarks, made Tuesday, that the release was not carried out based on Tokyo’s independent judgment but rather on a request from Washington is likely to ignite a debate.

South Korea and other neighboring countries have protested the lack of prior notification of the discharge.

Hirata’s lecture in Seoul was titled “Earthquakes and the Revitalization of Japan.” In response to a question at the venue, he called Japan’s failure to give advance notification a communication error.

While acknowledging that the release of the water caused concern in South Korea, he said the thousands of tons of water were not highly radioactive.