S. Korea, Japan agree on Seoul team’s four-day visit to assess nuclear water release plan

South Korea and Japan have agreed that a delegation from Seoul will visit Japan for four days to assess Tokyo's plan to discharge radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, Seoul's foreign ministry said Saturday.

Working-level officials from the two countries held a meeting in Seoul on Friday to discuss details of South Korean experts' planned visit to the nuclear plant. The meeting lasted for 12 hours until around 2 a.m. Saturday.

The two sides agreed on the team's four-day visit during the meeting and will hold an additional consultation in coming days, the ministry said.

The director-general-level meeting came after President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reached an agreement on the visit during a summit held Sunday.

It was headed by Yun Hyun-soo, head of the foreign ministry's bureau for climate change, energy, environment and scientific affairs, on the South Korean side and Atsushi Kaifu, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry's disarmament, non-proliferation and science department.

South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission as well as Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., the operator of the crippled power plant, also attended the meeting.

On Friday, Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, told a press briefing that the inspection team will comprise some 20 experts in safety regulation, check the operation of treatment and discharge facilities in Fukushima and secure information South Korea needs to conduct scientific evaluation of the contaminated water. It reportedly plans to visit Japan from May 23.

The inspection comes amid concerns over possible health and environmental hazards from the release of more than 1 million tons of water from the wrecked plant.

The two countries appear to have been at odds over the mission of the team during the meeting. Seoul has said the inspection is aimed at checking the safety of the discharge process, but Tokyo has suggested a limited scope for its activity.

Speaking at a press briefing earlier this week, Japanese Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the inspection is intended to "help deepen understanding" about the safety of the release, not to evaluate or certify its safety.

The Fukushima plant has stored more than 1.3 million tons of water through a custom purification system known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System since three reactors melted down after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast in March 2011.

Source: Yonhap News Agency