Japan and China held an "expert dialogue" on Saturday over the release of treated radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in their latest effort to address the dispute about the issue.

During the talks in Dalian, northeastern China, the Japanese side explained their belief that the water release is safe and detailed ongoing radiation monitoring activities. China has upheld an import ban on all seafood products from Japan in response to the multiple discharges that began in August last year.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, it is the first publicly acknowledged Japan-China expert dialogue on the water release, even though the two countries have communicated on the issue at various levels.

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on Feb. 11, 2024, shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Kyodo)

From Japan, the meeting was joined by officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and Fukushima Daiichi plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

From China, experts from research organizations were among those who participated.

Those involved exchanged opinions on "technical matters" regarding the treated water, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during their talks in November to find ways to resolve the issue "through consultations and dialogue in a constructive manner," according to the Japanese government.

Kishida also said after the summit that a "science-based" discussion will take place among experts.

On March 20, senior Foreign Ministry officials of the two countries held talks in Guangzhou, southern China, on the water release and other pending issues, agreeing to continue close communication.

Japan has discharged treated water into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima plant on four occasions, with the most recent round ending in mid-March. It asserts the release is in line with international safety standards and has dismissed concerns about effects on human health or the environment.

TEPCO released around 31,200 tons of treated water in the four rounds of discharge in fiscal 2023 through March.

At the plant, which was crippled in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, massive amounts of radioactive water has accumulated after being used to cool melted nuclear fuel. The water is treated to remove most radionuclides except tritium and is diluted before being released into the sea.

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