Amid growing tensions with China over the release of treated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, fisheries minister Tetsuro Nomura is facing sharp criticism from ruling and opposition parties for calling the water “contaminated” in an apparent slip of the tongue that echoes Beijing’s description.

Nomura, who is also in charge of agricultural and forestry matters, made the remarks at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday afternoon after a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other ministers over additional financial aid to the sector.

Asked by reporters about the content of the discussion, Nomura said participants had exchanged views on the release of “contaminated water” and the government’s plans to address its diplomatic fallout.