(LEAD) S. Korea calls on Japan to transparently disclose info on Fukushima water release over next 30 yrs: PM

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo called on Japan on Thursday to transparently disclose information about its discharge of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima plant over the next 30 years.

Han made the remark in a public statement, as Japan has initiated the discharge of contaminated water, a process expected to span more than three decades, despite lingering concerns from neighboring countries.

"Our government hopes and once again urges the Japanese government to disclose information in a transparent and responsible manner about the water discharge process that will continue over the next 30 years," Han said.

Addressing public concerns about safety, Han said "excessive worry" is unnecessary, as the ocean disposal plan, if executed accordingly, should not result in significant harm.

"While the ideal scenario would have been to avoid the discharge of contaminated water altogether, experts from around the world share the view that excessive public concern is not necessary," Han said.

Emphasizing that the safety of the people is the priority, Han reassured that the two countries have agreed to establish a "double hotline" between their regulatory and diplomatic authorities to swiftly share information in case of an abnormal situation at the discharge facilities.

The Fukushima plant has stored more than 1.3 million tons of water through a custom purification system known as ALPS since three reactors melted down after a powerful earthquake and a subsequent tsunami struck off the coast in 2011.

In the wake of the meltdown incident, South Korea has banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima since 2013 due to concerns over their radiation levels.

Han assured that the import ban on fisheries and food products from the Fukushima region will remain in place until public concern is eased, and radiation monitoring on imported seafood will be thoroughly conducted.

Han also criticized "fake news" and political instigation, saying they are threatening the fisheries industry without any scientific grounds.

"Groundless instigation that our waters will be contaminated due to the Fukushima contaminated water is threatening our fisheries industry," Han said, urging the public to have faith in the government and in science in a long-term view.

Source: Yonhap News Agency