Japan's imminent decision to discharge radioactive wastewater into the ocean sparked widespread backlash from many Chinese consumers, who expressed concerns that the move could affect seafood safety.
Following news reports of Japan's move to dump the wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, some Chinese consumers took to social media to register their opposition, calling the move a disaster for humankind.
"If nuclear wastewater is discharged into the sea, the seafood market will surely suffer heavy losses several years later, which maybe a devastating blow!" a Weibo user called "VisualSenseVIP" wrote on Sina Weibo Sunday.
"I'm concerned that the seafood in the Pacific Ocean, not just around Japan, would be contaminated, and that it will have an adverse effect on the human body," a Beijing resident surnamed Yang told the Global Times on Monday.
Another Beijing resident named Wang Ying told the Global Times that she is worried the seafood will become cancerogenic after being contaminated by the nuclear wastewater.
According to a post by the official Weibo account of ntv.cn, China's agriculture film and television center, the total catch from China's deep-sea fishing is about 2 million tons each year, and nearly two-thirds of that is caught around the Pacific Rim, making the decision closely bound up with China's fishery industry.
The news also led some netizens to embrace freshwater fish, a prospect that lifted shares of freshwater fish companies listed on Chinese stock markets. For instance, share price of leading freshwater aquaculture specialist Dahu Aquaculture Co increased 10.06 percent on Monday.
On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that China has expressed "grave concern" to the Japanese side through diplomatic channels, urging Japan to handle the issue in a prudent and responsible manner.
"The leak of large amounts of radioactive materials has had a profound impact on the marine environment, food safety and human health. The disposal of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant has a bearing on global public interests and the immediate interests of neighboring countries," Zhao said.
Zhao's comment was viewed over 66 million times on Sina Weibo as of Monday afternoon, while the topic for Japan's plan was viewed nearly 60 million, highlighting the Chinese public's deep concern about the issue.