Reputational damage over Fukushima water feared to widen in China

Reputational damage to Japanese products and services is feared to widen in China following the release of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear complex into the sea, with many canceling trips to Japan and online boycott campaigns targeting items such as cosmetics.

Against the background of growing anti-Japan sentiment triggered by the ocean discharge that started last week, Chinese authorities have apparently taken no action to stop online appeals in the country for boycotting Japanese products.

The Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with China's ruling Communist Party, has said several travel agencies have reported the cancellation of Japan-bound trips, with many companies planning to reduce their promotions for the National Day holidays from late September.

The paper said Chinese tourists' enthusiasm for traveling to Japan during the holidays has significantly waned, citing a newlywed couple who switched their honeymoon destination to another country after the water release started.

Japan is "not an irreplaceable tourist destination" and its "irresponsible behavior is unacceptable," the couple said, according to the daily. China had said earlier this month it will resume Japan-bound group tours after a hiatus of more than three years caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

China remains strongly opposed to the Fukushima water release, calling it "nuclear-contaminated," and has introduced a total ban on seafood imports from the neighboring country.

Local media have also reported on Chinese consumers' concerns over the safety of Japanese cosmetics following the water release.

Beijing Business Today has said many consumers have started to return purchased Japanese cosmetic items and posted on social media the lists of brands that should be avoided.

The business paper said a Chinese loyal user of SK-II who has used products of the Japanese cosmetic brand over the past seven or eight years was determined to find replacements after using up stocks due to concerns over the Fukushima water discharge.

© Kyodo News