Japan, China face off over satirical painting criticizing Fukushima water release

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April 30 (UPI) — A senior Japanese official said a Chinese diplomat’s satirical tweet about Tokyo’s decision to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is offensive and spreads disinformation.

Japan’s Minister of Reconstruction Katsuei Hirasawa said Friday at a press conference that China is “greatly distorting the facts” by constantly claiming the treated wastewater is harmful to people, NHK reported.

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“It also looks like they are very much disparaging a famous painting,” Hirasawa said.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian uploaded an image that parodied a 19th-century artwork, Great Wave Off Kanagawa, by Japanese master Katsushika Hokusai, Kyodo News reported Thursday.

The parody was the work of a Chinese illustrator, and included figures wearing orange protective gear and throwing a bucket of green liquid into the sea. A nuclear power plant replaces Mount Fuji. Containers labeled with the nuclear hazard symbol are seen in other boats in the background.

In his tweet, the Chinese diplomat said, “If Katsushika Hokusai, the original author is still alive today, he would also be very concerned about #JapanNuclearWater.”

At a briefing Wednesday, Zhao said the image “reflects legitimate public opinion and justice.”

“It is the Japanese government that needs to revoke the wrong decision and apologize,” he said.

The Japanese government is protesting the tweet from Zhao and asked it to be removed from his timeline. On Friday, Zhao had pinned the tweet to the top of his page.

Zhao is known for his controversial remarks. Last year, the Chinese diplomat claimed the novel coronavirus was introduced to Wuhan by the U.S. Army, without providing evidence.

Zhao said in early April Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso should “drink” the Fukushima wastewater after Aso said the water is safe for consumption.