(2nd LD) DP leader lashes out at Japan after it announces start of Fukushima water release Thursday

The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) said Tuesday he strongly denounces Tokyo's attempt to "destroy the environment" after Japan announced it will start discharging water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant this week.

Rep. Lee Jae-myung made the remarks during a protest held shortly after the Japanese government announced it will start releasing the treated water into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

"Japan has declared one of the worst environmental destructions. We strongly denounce the rash decision," Lee said at the National Assembly.

"(Japan) has committed the evil act of dumping the contaminated water into the ocean -- the public property of humanity -- without scientific verification or the understanding of neighboring countries or the consent of the people of Japan," he said.

He spoke with a group of DP lawmakers, wearing badges shaped like the radiation warning symbol, holding picket signs reading, "We oppose ocean dumping," and chanting slogans criticizing Tokyo and the Korean government.

Lee also accused President Yoon Suk Yeol of letting Japan go ahead with its release plan during the trilateral summit meeting with Japan and the United States held in Camp David last week.

"The responsibility being shouldered by the Yoon administration, which played a helper's role and shield for this unacceptable decision, is not light. He was sitting on his hands during the summit meeting, which was the last chance to stop the release of the contaminated water," Lee said.

The DP declared a "state of emergency" regarding people's safety and outlined efforts to pressure Japan into halting the planned release, such as sending its lawmakers to international organizations to express its views on Tokyo's move.

Rep. Woo Won-shik, head of the DP's response committee against Tokyo's planned release, told reporters that Rep. Kim Sung-whan will meet with International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Lim Ki-tack in early September.

In addition, the party plans to send its lawmakers to protest rallies to be held by Japan's Social Democratic Party and Constitutional Democratic Party in Fukushima on Sunday.

The committee also plans to stage a protest condemning the planned release Wednesday evening at the National Assembly in western Seoul, attended by some 1,000 people, including lawmakers and party members.

It will hold a rally outside the presidential office Thursday and a protest with civic groups at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul on Saturday.

The committee had earlier planned to deliver the party's statement criticizing Tokyo's release plan to the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, but the diplomatic mission refused to accept it.

Source: Yonhap News Agency