Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi has apologized to fishermen in Fukushima for a comment by his predecessor about wastewater from reactor buildings at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Officials say tanks for storing wastewater containing mostly tritium, a radioactive isotope, will become full in the summer of 2022. Increasing the number of tanks or diluting the water and releasing it into the sea are among the disposal methods being discussed by a government panel.
On Tuesday, Koizumi's predecessor, Yoshiaki Harada, said he believes the only way to stop the buildup of the water is to release it into the sea. The comment angered fishermen in Fukushima.
Koizumi met representatives of a Fukushima fisheries cooperative in Iwaki City on Thursday, the day after assuming his new post.
According to the cooperative, Koizumi said the comment was the former minister's personal opinion and he is sorry that it has caused concern.
The cooperative chief, Tetsuji Suzuki, said he cannot ignore the comment as the situation of the nuclear plant has finally settled down and the local fishing industry has begun moving toward recovery.
Koizumi promised to thoroughly look into the situation in Fukushima and to push for reconstruction.