Thousands rally in Seoul to protest Fukushima water release

Thousands of people rallied in Seoul on Saturday to protest Japan's release of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The rally was held near City Hall, with the participation of some 90 civic groups who have formed a coalition to protest the water release, and members of four opposition parties, including the main opposition Democratic Party (DP).

Occupying four car lanes, the protesters chanted slogans and held up signs reading, "Retract disposal of Fukushima contaminated water," and "Denounce the Yoon Suk Yeol administration."

The rally came two days after Japan began to release the water into the Pacific Ocean despite lingering concerns in South Korea and China about its potential impact on people's health and the environment.

Japan's move came after the International Atomic Energy Agency greenlighted the water's disposal into the ocean.

"Japan has crossed a line that shouldn't be crossed," DP leader Lee Jae-myung said from a platform installed for the rally. "Discharging nuclear contaminated water is a declaration of war against nations bordering the Pacific Ocean.

"Japan should apologize to the Republic of Korea, which is its nearest country and is suffering the most damage," he added.

Lee also accused President Yoon Suk Yeol of justifying and supporting the water release when Japan was hesitant out of concern about its neighbors.

Organizers estimated the turnout at 50,000 people, while police put the number at around 7,000, though it did not plan to take an exact count.

The participants marched toward the presidential office in Yongsan after ending the rally.

The civic groups plan to hold another rally at the same place next Saturday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency