Release of treated water causes headwinds for Japanese cosmetics, what happened to China’s boycott movement

Negative posts about Japanese cosmetics are decreasing on Chinese social networking sites (SNS). The discharge of treated water from the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, which began in August 2023, not only caused China to completely suspend imports of Japanese marine products, but also created a strong headwind for sales of Japanese cosmetics, which are popular locally. , it seems that these negative effects are finally subsiding.

 In response to the release of treated water, a “don’t buy” list of Japanese cosmetics was created in China and spread on social media. According to NOVARCA (Tokyo), which supports cross-border e-commerce (EC) mainly in China, sales for many brands decreased by 20% to 50% compared to the previous year in 2023.

Release of treated water causes headwinds for Japanese cosmetics, what happened to China's boycott movement

Among cosmetics, skin care products such as lotions had the greatest impact. President Tomonari Hamano says, “The image has been associated with water.”

 The company compared the trends in postings about Japanese skin care products on the Chinese SNS “Xiaohongshu” in order to understand changes in consumer sentiment. As a result, the number of negative posts jumped from 1.5% in April 2023 to 12.7% in August, when treated water was first released. After that, it began to decline, dropping to 3.2% in March of this year. On the other hand, after decreasing to 11.3% in August 2023, positive posts accounted for 20.2% in March of this year, reversing the number of negative posts.

The reason why sales plummeted in 2023 is partly because the use of local influencers has become an essential marketing method in China. Japanese companies appear to have been forced to scale back their advertising due to fear that influencers introducing Japanese products will expose them to criticism.

Release of treated water causes headwinds for Japanese cosmetics, what happened to China's boycott movement

 According to President Hamano, since the beginning of this year, “boycotts have almost subsided,” and the company has started using influencers again. Shiseido, which suffered major damage from its business in China, stated in its February financial results press conference that it is “on a steady recovery path.” [Yuki Machino]

What is the actual status of monitoring of treated water? Detect abnormalities quickly by strengthening analysis

Regarding the release of treated water from the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, there are posts on social media stating that “radioactive substances other than tritium have not been measured.” What actually happens?

What is the actual status of monitoring of treated water? Detect abnormalities quickly by strengthening analysis

 Conventional monitoring conducted by TEPCO, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Fisheries Agency measures radioactive substances other than tritium in seawater and fish collected around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The targets are several types, including cesium and strontium. However, because it accurately measures the tiny amount of radioactive material contained in the sample, it takes about a month for the results to be available.

 For this reason, in anticipation of the start of releases, starting in fiscal 2022, each agency has added new monitoring targeting only tritium, increasing the number of locations and frequency. This is to prioritize quick analysis and quickly detect any abnormalities in water quality.

The deception of releasing treated water into the ocean at the expense of Fukushima. Who is really responsible?

 Regarding the release of treated water into the ocean from the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, the government created a structure that left Fukushima’s fishermen to make the decision until the very end, shifting the blame. Takeshi Hamada, a professor at Hokkai Gakuen University, says:

 I think the practice of obscuring the original responsibility continues. I thought about this with Mr. Hamada. [Interviewer: Takashi Sudo]

Release of treated water causes headwinds for Japanese cosmetics, what happened to China's boycott movement

Always the fisherman in the end

 –It has been pointed out that there is a tendency to force fishermen to make the final decision regarding development involving the sea and rivers.

 ◆It is true that development cannot take place without the understanding of fishermen as there are fishing rights. However, decisions have repeatedly been made based on the final approval of the fishermen.

 This is not limited to ocean discharge. The same is true when locating nuclear power plants, including Fukushima, and when locating thermal power plants.

 –In reality, it is rare that it is a problem only for fishermen.

 ◆Nuclear power plants are a typical example, but fishermen are not the only victims when an accident occurs.

 However, the practice of placing the responsibility for decisions only on fishermen continues.

 –The government is putting effort into countering reputational damage.

 ◆The story is the problem. The premise is that since it is scientifically safe, we can discourage consumers from purchasing it.

 There is a replacement. Saying that the responsibility lies with the consumer obscures the responsibility for the accident in the first place.

 This story inevitably overlaps with the safety myth. …

Embargo on Japanese seafood related to treated water affects bilateral relations; Japan-China summit meeting

The Japan-China summit meeting was held for the first time in about a year. It appears that both parties agree to avoid further deterioration of relations. Regarding the issue of the discharge of treated water into the ocean from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was the focus of attention, an agreement was reached to promote scientific discussion at the expert level, but there was no progress towards eliminating the ban on imports of Japanese marine products. could not be shown. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has now “revived” the term “mutually beneficial relationship” in response to a request from the Chinese side, with the aim of resolving issues through revitalized dialogue. However, it is unclear whether the government will be able to produce concrete results on the many outstanding issues.

Prime Minister: “A certain level of response”

 At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Kishida walked up to President Xi Jinping, shook his hand, looked at him, said a word or two, and smiled. After the meeting, he told reporters, “We agreed to accumulate concrete projects and put them into practice in order to aim for sustainable and stable Japan-China relations.I personally feel a certain level of response.” I held out my chest.

 Coordination for the meeting continued until the last minute, and some expressed doubts as to whether they would be able to secure enough time for discussions, but when the lid was lifted, it ended up lasting about an hour, about 20 minutes longer than the scheduled 45 minutes. It lasted 5 minutes. There were times when the two leaders spoke on the same topic more than once, and one attendee said, “It was a very engaging discussion.”

 There are many issues facing Japan and China, not just the suspension of imports of Japanese marine products. Chinese authorities formally arrested a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharmaceuticals in October on suspicion of espionage. It has been confirmed that Chinese government vessels have entered territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, and that buoys have been installed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Japan has become increasingly wary of China, which is increasing military pressure in the East and South China Seas and around Taiwan.


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