PIF-Sec, 2 June 2022—Face to face talks regarding Japan plans to discharge Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water at Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean are the next step following an initial meeting between the Government of Japan and the Pacific Islands Forum global panel of experts.
The five independent experts were announced by the Forum in January, following more than six months of meetings between Forum member nations and Japan on its discharge plans.
Today’s meeting was the second time for Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO officials and experts to meet the panel of independent experts advising Forum Members on the issue. The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, was represented in an Observer capacity by Director and Coordinator of Nuclear Safety and Security, Gustavo Caruso. Japan’s head of delegation, Director General Kaifu Atsushi, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), welcomed the experts and Director Nagayoshi Shoichi, International Nuclear Cooperation Division, MOFA, facilitated the exchange of questions and responses from the PIF and the TEPCO teams.
Forum experts presented their analysis and findings based on the data received to date, including in relation to biological contexts and monitoring, fate in the ocean and ocean monitoring needs, and shared views regarding responsibility to address the issue. They expressed their role as ‘honest brokers’ of information and stressed the burden of proof on Japan to ensure safety.
The session looked at the concerns of the PIF experts around data sets provided by TEPCO, discussed the implications of those gaps as well as what could be surmised from the available information, and proposed next steps.
Earlier, PIF Governance and Engagement Director Sione Tekiteki, speaking on behalf of PIF SG Henry Puna, had noted Pacific Island countries “have many questions and concerns. We remain fully alert and conscious of the nuclear legacy issues that continue to affect our communities today,” he told the meeting.
“We are also mindful of our legal obligations to keep our region free from nuclear pollution, including under our South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty as well as the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Director Tekiteki said, “transboundary harm and the inter-generational nature of this matter remain serious concerns, particularly for our small islands that depend on the ocean for our livelihoods. As I have expressed before, we are unequivocal about the need for full access to data and evidence – in a clear and accessible form.”
“Since the proposed time of discharge in 2023 is fast approaching, this issue takes on even greater urgency for us. I remain hopeful that we will move together with one key goal – to protect and secure our homes, our peoples, and our future in this shared home we call the Pacific,” he said. –ENDS
CONTACT: Public Affairs Adviser, LisaW@forumsec.org