Climate Change

Outcry over Japan’s plan to release Fukushima Wastewater

January 18, 2023 9:52 am

"Based on our experience with nuclear contamination, continuing with ocean discharge plans is simply inconceivable" - Forum SG Henry Puna in @guardiannews Op-Ed on #Japan's #Fukushima wastewater. [Source: Pacific Islands Forum / Twitter]

The Pacific Islands Forum is standing by its call for Japan to hold off on its plans to release more than a million tonnes of wastewater contaminated by the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna is backing the call from independent global experts who say they are not satisfied that the evidence provided so far is independent and verifiable.

In the meantime, Puna says the secretariat is still working closely with Japan and power company TEPCO on the issue.

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“We’re hoping to engage with them as soon as possible and the indications from Japan are that they are prepared to meet with us. It is absolutely important for the Pacific that Japan does not go ahead with the release. Until you know, we are satisfied.”

Also in Abu Dhabi for the annual renewable energy assembly, Vanuatu Climate Minister Ralph Regenvanu left Port Vila just before a high-level visit from Japan.

“The Ministry of State and Foreign Affairs has just visited our country in the last couple of days and our Minister for Foreign Affairs conveyed to him that Vanuatu objects to the plan and we obviously would rather they did not do it and we told them that. We have made our objections clear to him and I hope that message will go back to Tokyo and I hope that Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific Island Countries can also share the same message with Japan.”

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr says transparency is what the Pacific really asks for and more education is needed.

He says the Nuclear Legacy of the Pacific and ongoing environmental and health concerns for testing sites in the Marshall Islands are a painful part of our history.

“We should listen to the experts, use science and data, and the decision I know many times, it becomes emotional for us….. and So I think it’s about trust, transparency, and building that and using science which will really make the best decision.”

For former activist turned Marshall Islands Climate Change Activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, news that Japan intends to go ahead with its plans is sounding the alarm bells.

She says cannot understand why Japan is bent on continuing with plans despite the opposition of many of its own people, and the ongoing discussions it has been having with the independent panel of global experts and Pacific Islands Forum members.

China, Taiwan, and North and South Korea have also expressed their opposition to the idea.

“Why has this been allowed to happen in the international space, why are the other international countries allowing Japan to make this decision because laterally it’s going to affect all of our ocean and all of the food that we are living in our oceans and our cultures and science.”

Japan announced it will release 1.25 million tons of treated wastewater contaminated by the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Most Pacific Island countries including marine scientists, environmental groups and organizations condemn the decision as it can have possible impacts on marine life.

[Source: Pacific Islands Forum / Facebook]