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Japan confirms experts met in China to ease concerns over discharge of treated radioactive water

FILE - This aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, situated in coastal towns of both Okuma and Futaba, northeastern Japan, on Aug. 24, 2023, shortly after its operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings TEPCO began releasing its first batch of treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Japan said Sunday, March 31, 2024, its experts have held talks with their Chinese counterparts to try to assuage Beijing鈥檚 concerns over the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. (Kyodo News via AP, File)

FILE - This aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, situated in coastal towns of both Okuma and Futaba, northeastern Japan, on Aug. 24, 2023, shortly after its operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings TEPCO began releasing its first batch of treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Japan said Sunday, March 31, 2024, its experts have held talks with their Chinese counterparts to try to assuage Beijing鈥檚 concerns over the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. (Kyodo News via AP, File)

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TOKYO (AP) 鈥 Japan said Sunday its experts have held talks with their Chinese counterparts to try to assuage Beijing鈥檚 concerns over the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea.

The discharges have been opposed by fishing groups and neighboring countries especially China, which banned all imports of Japanese seafood. China鈥檚 move has largely affected Japanese scallop growers and exporters to China.

During the talks held Saturday in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, Japanese officials provided 鈥渟cience-based鈥 explanation of how the discharges have been safely carried out as planned, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

A 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant鈥 s power supply and reactor cooling functions, triggering meltdowns of three reactors and causing large amounts of radioactive wastewater to accumulate. After more than a decade of storage in tanks taking up much space on the complex, the plant began discharging the water after treating it at least once and diluting it with seawater on Aug. 24, starting a process that鈥檚 expected to take decades.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping at their summit meeting in November agreed to hold scientific talks by experts, and the countries have since held a number of informal meetings. Sunday鈥檚 statement from the Japanese Foreign Ministry was its first public acknowledgement of the talks.

The experts exchanged views on 鈥渢echnical matters鈥 involving the discharges, the ministry official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. While stressing the importance of transparency, the official declined to give any other details, including what the Chinese side said and whether their differences have been narrowed.

The meeting comes just after the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Rafael鈥檚 visit to the plant in mid-March confirming that the ongoing discharges have been safely carried out as planned.