Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna
On the Fukushima nuclear wastewater release
As Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, and as Depositary of the Treaty of Rarotonga and its Protocols, I have placed the highest priority on the Fukushima nuclear wastewater issue, aligned to the positions pronounced by Forum Leaders. Indeed, Forum Leaders have prioritised the importance of “international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments”, in view of the Rarotonga Treaty and our nuclear testing legacy that continues to affect our people and environment, 80 years on, and which gives rise to our acute awareness in the Pacific region of the threats posed by nuclear testing and contamination.
The Forum Secretariat has worked with all Members to pursue different avenues over the last three years to “urge Japan to take all steps necessary to address any potential harm to the Pacific”, and “to take all appropriate measures within its territory, jurisdiction and control to prevent transboundary harm to the territory of another state, as required under international law”.
By the same token, we have relied on Japan’s assurances that discharge will not take place if it is not verifiably safe to do so, as well as their commitment to ensuring that the any release would “not be allowed in a manner that endangers the lives of Japanese citizens or those of the citizens of Pacific Island countries”.
Our Leaders have noted the latest IAEA report. We have considered the advice of our PIF independent scientific experts over the past 18 months and thank them for their contribution. We are now aware of the announced discharge commencement by TEPCO, and the Government of Japan.
It remains clear however that there continues to be divergent views and responses in the international community and within the Forum Membership on this issue, and I recognise the sovereignty and prerogative of Forum Members to determine their own national positions.
These developments continue to fuel our unwavering commitment to addressing this unprecedented issue. In this respect, the Forum Secretariat will continue to strive to provide the latest information and updates to the upcoming Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting on 15 September for further discussion and consideration, and from there to the PIF Leaders Meeting in the Cook Islands on 10 November. The Forum Secretariat will continue to facilitate ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA to ensure that Forum Members are privy to the latest information and updates.
This will not be the first nor last time we will have to deal with these issues. I remain dedicated and committed to driving our collective interests, and I am confident that we will be able to move forward for the benefit of all states, and present and future generations who share the Pacific Ocean as our home and livelihood.–ENDS