On the winding streets through farmland, houses and businesses — both abandoned and finally re-occupied since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami — towns and villages around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were buzzing with the “what ifs” from the plant’s tritium-laced water release on Thursday.

Freelance tour guide Sumio Konno, who used to work at the Fukushima plant, sees what the government and media call “treated water” as something different.

“Of course I’m against the release,” he said. “It's contaminated water. ... Tritium isn’t at all safe, so I feel as if we’re being deceived by the government.”