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Science should guide Fukushima wastewater release plan, Pacific leaders say


SUVA – Pacific leaders on Friday wrapped up the two-day Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Special Leaders’ Retreat in Fiji, where Japan’s Fukushima wastewater release plan was in the limelight.

The PIF rotating chair underlined in a statement that science and data should guide political decisions on Japan’s proposed discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

The outgoing chair and Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, together with other PIF leaders, believes the decision is not as simple as a domestic issue of Japan, but concerns the South Pacific island countries and beyond.

Given that related data and evidence provided by Japan are far from independent or verifiable, the PIF has called on the country repeatedly to delay the discharge plan.


Civil society groups in Japan and many international organizations have also voiced objections to the plan, citing a lack of a practical demonstration and its potential threat to society and marine ecology.

Over the past years, fishermen in neighboring countries have staged several rallies, calling for immediate stop to the “grave criminal act” of releasing radioactive water into the sea. Within Japan, local civic groups have organized protests outside the government house of Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s unilateral push to discharge radioactive wastewater from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean is irresponsible and harmful, South Korean green activists have said.

“The Pacific Ocean is not the sea of Japan, but the sea of everybody … Pollutants will flow to neighboring countries in a situation that a lot of radioactive materials have already been released and contaminated (the marine ecosystem),” Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, told Xinhua.

The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the contaminated water into the sea when there are alternatives such as long-term storage violates the precautionary principle recognized by the international community, Greenpeace Seoul Office has said. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network for environment protection.

“We must prevent action that will lead or mislead us toward another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said PIF Secretary General Henry Puna.

Take a look at how Japan proceeded with that.

The Japanese government decided in April 2021 to release more than one million tons of treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean this spring.

Three months later, Japan greenlit the discharge plan while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s task force was still conducting the review mission.

Earlier this year, Japan unilaterally announced that it would start discharging the radioactive water in spring or summer, just before the agency’s task force arrives in Japan for review.


Pacific island countries unanimously oppose Japan’s release plan for multiple reasons, citing ecological fragility, economic dependence on the fisheries industry, and the devastating effects of radioactive pollution caused by Western nuclear testing.

First, Pacific island countries are concerned that the released radioactive substances will spread with ocean currents and tides, risking contaminating fish. As more than half of the world’s tuna comes from the Pacific Ocean, a potentially contaminated environment could hurt the fisheries that those countries rely on.

Second, the Pacific Ocean’s delicate ecology may come under threat. If the wastewater release leads to an ecological disaster, the vulnerable island residents will leave their homes, causing an ecological and survival crisis that will deal a heavy blow to the entire Pacific region.

Last, Western countries have conducted a dazzling array of nuclear tests in the Pacific since the mid-20th century, resulting in shocking radioactive pollution and ecological disasters. These have left painful memories for islanders, who have been sensitive to the wastewater issue.

Analysts believe that Japan should not ignore the concerns and livelihoods of Pacific islanders. Neither should it dump the wastewater into the sea until disputes are settled over the legitimacy of the discharge plan, the reliability of radioactivity data, the effectiveness of purification equipment and the uncertainty of environmental impact, they added.


February 26, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The World’s Dumping Ground for Nuclear Waste Doesn’t Want Fukushima’s Wastewater.

Japan’s plan to discharge more than 1,000 tanks of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific has incensed island nations.

The Runit Dome, a concrete dome located in the Marshall Islands that houses tons of radioactive waste from nuclear testing in the 40’s and 50’s.

February 17, 2023

TOKYO — In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of tropical islands has never seen winter. But one morning 70 years ago, a loud bang followed by a flash of light made it “snow” for the first time.

Fluttery and white, the powdery material sank into the Marshall Islands’ deep blue lagoons. It lightly covered the palm trees that lined Rongelap Atoll, astounding those who came out of their thatched homes to watch it settle on roofs. Children played with it, scooping the dust into their mouths. 

But within hours, the atoll’s residents mysteriously began falling ill. Hair fell out in clumps. Skin burned. People vomited. They were evacuated two days later, but the damage was already done. Years later, the Rongelapese would suffer heightened cases of cancer, miscarriages, and birth deformities. 

This was the fallout of Castle Bravo, the U.S.’ largest-ever thermonuclear bomb test that sprinkled radioactive debris on that warm March day. Now, residents of the island nations that include Fiji, the Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia invoke the nuclear accident and its subsequent contamination to oppose Japan’s plan to release its nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.

“We have a legacy of being the dumping ground when it comes to the issue of nuclear waste,” James Bhagwan, a Fijian anti-nuclear activist and secretary-general of the Pacific Conference of Churches, told VICE World News. 

“Pacific Islanders have a spiritual bond with both land and ocean. So this again speaks to the issue of poisoning a part of us, our family,” he said. 

The comparison Bhagwan drew between the controlled release of treated wastewater and an atmospheric nuclear test gone wrong may sound like a stretch. But it speaks to how much Pacific Island nations fear Japan’s planned discharge in the coming months of more than 1.3 million metric tons of contaminated water into the world’s largest ocean. 

The nuclear waste sits in over 1,000 water tanks in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, the product of the meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear reactors there in 2011. 

That year, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake inundated the power plant and knocked out its cooling systems. Since then, officials have been trying to cool the destroyed reactors by pumping over a hundred tons of water through them every day. 

But now Japan is running out of space to store this contaminated water, and is looking to release the treated liquid into the ocean this spring or summer.

Like Bhagwan, Pacific Island leaders have protested Japan’s plan. 

If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.

“We must prevent actions that will lead or mislead us towards another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said Henry Puna at a public seminar last month. He’s the former prime minister of the Cook Islands and current secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum—a regional bloc of 17 island nations.

In objecting to the release, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, a Vanuatu stateswoman, has cited the slogan of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement: “If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.”

Scientists disagree over the extent to which the release of Fukushima’s treated wastewater could affect the Pacific Islands. Some claim that nuclear waste could enter human food chains and contaminate fish eaten by communities outside Japan. Other experts argue that the distance between Japan and the Pacific Islands, ocean current patterns, and marine behavior will make the risk of nuclear contamination for the Pacific Islands highly unlikely. The water will get released into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel, built one kilometer off the coast near the Daiichi plant. 

Japan has insisted that the wastewater is safe to release following treatment by a system called ALPS, Advanced Liquid Processing System. The process is designed to remove all radioactive material found in the water with two exceptions: The radioactive isotopes of hydrogen and carbon, tritium and carbon-14, are almost impossible to filter out and will instead be released after the liquid is diluted to one-hundredth of its concentration with seawater.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)—which ran the collapsed Daiichi plant—said it would test the waste before, during, and after the wastewater’s release into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel over the span of 30 years.

While Japan maintains that the wastewater it will discharge will contain less tritium annually than a normal nuclear facility, the country’s own fishermen and neighboring South Korea and China have protested the decision. One Chinese official dared his Japanese counterparts to “take a sip” if the tritiated water was harmless. 

Scientists who spoke with VICE World News and who are referenced in this article said that the amount of tritium Japan plans to release won’t be harmful to humans or the environment because of the small doses. And though ALPS can’t remove carbon-14, TEPCO told VICE World News that the radioactive isotope’s concentrations are well below the regulatory limit. 

But despite the general consensus that low doses of tritium, which is found also in rain and seawater, have negligible effects on health, some scientists questioned whether the wastewater to be released truly meets the level of safety promised by Japan.

Ken Buesseler, a marine radiochemist and one of five experts on the Pacific Islands Forum’s panel of independent scientists, questioned TEPCO’s ability to sufficiently remove radioactive material from the liquid. He cited how, in 2020, the company had to retreat about 70 percent of the stored wastewater because it was found to contain amounts of radioactive substances exceeding standards. 

“That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence,” he told VICE World News. Monitoring the wastewater after it was released into the ocean would be too late, Buesseler added, as once it’s in the ocean, TEPCO can’t get it back. 

He also faulted the company for analyzing only about a quarter of the 1,061 tanks and providing testing results on just seven radioactive substances out of the dozens TEPCO said it would monitor. This, he said, ignored the possibility that there would be variation among the tanks, potentially overlooking harmful levels of more radioactive substances such as cesium-137 and strontium-90.

In a written statement to VICE World News, TEPCO said potential variations among the tanks have been accounted for and that each tank will eventually be tested before they’re discharged. Not all tanks have been tested yet because 70 percent of them currently do not meet TEPCO’s standard for discharge and will be retreated. TEPCO also said it would sample the water for 69 different radionuclides before it is released and that the test results would be audited by third-party agencies it appointed and Japan’s nuclear regulator.

Despite these measures, critics say that TEPCO has had a spotty record when it comes to communicating with the public. In 2018, Kyodo News reported that the treated water still contained radioactive substances above the legal limit after it had gone through ALPS. And it wasn’t until 2020 that the power company first acknowledged that the water contained carbon-14, which can’t be removed using ALPS. 

“I saw this as an opportunity for Japan to build up trust, to take care of their waste, clean it up and demonstrate independently to the world that they’ve done that,” Buesseler said. “It’s a lot of trust, is what it really boils down to. And we’re saying, show us.”

Brent Heuser, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Illinois in the U.S., told VICE World News he’s confident that, even if the tanks storing wastewater in Fukushima have higher levels of radioactive substances than is reported, dilution of the liquid is enough to ensure their safety. He noted that the company will discharge the water gradually over 30 years to sufficiently thin out the wastewater. 

Paul Dickman, a radiochemist who has visited Fukushima multiple times over the past decade to advise Japanese regulators on nuclear waste cleanup, supports the safe release of the treated water, although he acknowledged that the debate also hinges on trust.

“Let’s face it. I think the central government lost trust and trust is very hard to rebuild,” Dickman, a former senior official of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current chairman of the American Nuclear Society’s external affairs committee, told VICE World News.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization within the UN system that advocates for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, has tested the wastewater and found the plan to release it in line with global practices.

But scientists who support the discharge say worrying about the treated wastewater was ignoring the more pressing concern: what TEPCO will do with the fuel debris in the reactor vessels.

When the 2011 tsunami hit Fukushima’s three reactors, power sources and equipment used to cool the fuel inside shut down. This allowed the fuel to overheat, melting the core and other parts of the reactor. Once it cooled and solidified, it became highly radioactive material known as “fuel debris.” At the moment, it sits at the bottom of the three reactor vessels and needs to be cleaned out before the plant can be decommissioned—making it a far greater issue than what’s in the tanks, Dickman said. 

“It’s like, if you’re worrying about the air freshener in your car and you’re not worrying about the tires, then you’re not paying attention,” Dickman said. 

Though the deadline for Japan’s release of the treated wastewater is fast approaching, the country is yet to fully convince Pacific Island nations that its plan won’t be harmful. The tanks fill up day by day, swelling to their 1.3 million ton limit. 

Now, the Pacific Islands are running out of time to defend their oceans, the environmentalist Bhagwan said, warning Japan of the consequences that could lay ahead. 

“The culture of shame will be laid upon the Japanese government and the people of Japan in years to come. Do they want that to be part of their legacy?” he said.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Delays Dump Of Fukushima Wastewater. But For How Long?

The decision coincides with construction setbacks that would have postponed any discharge into the Pacific Ocean until spring or summer at the earliest.

February 16, 2023

Japan’s decision to postpone the release of treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean is giving Pacific nations and territories more time to push for other options.

But the company hired to dispose of the material is still moving ahead with preparations for the work, and told Civil Beat it expects to get the go-ahead in the coming months.

The wastewater is from the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, destroyed in March 2011 following the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami.

It was deemed one of the worst nuclear disasters on record.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida indicated that the nation would hold off the release until it was “verifiably safe to do so and based on a relationship built of trust and in the spirit of friendship,” according to the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental organization.

Release plans were made public in 2021 and the process was scheduled to begin early this year and continue over the course of 40 years.

Several months of negotiation and international inspections that reiterated safety concerns preceded the decision.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co. stated in an interview with Radio New Zealand that the water, treated with an Advanced Liquid Processing System, remains safe to be discharged.

The company continues to work under the premise it will begin releasing water in the coming months, a representative confirmed to Civil Beat.

After visiting Japan an independent panel assembled by PIF said there was insufficient evidence that the release would be safe.

The water has been treated to remove radioactive materials, though significant gaps in data remain and all alternative disposal options have not been fully considered, said PIF scientific panel member Robert Richmond, who was part of the delegation that visited last week. 

Richmond, director of the University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory, has previously raised concerns about the potential interplay between lingering radioactive compounds and marine life in the Pacific, which could eventually make its way into the food system and fundamentally change the ecosystem.

Robert Richmond holds experiments on music CD at the Kewalo UH facility.

One of the compounds in the wastewater of most concern to Richmond is tritium, defined by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a “mildly radioactive isotope,” which is already released from operational nuclear power stations globally. 

Richmond says he was not entirely satisfied with the level of research and data Japan could provide to the panel, despite TEPCO experimenting with flounder to assess whether there had been a change in the fish. 

“When people try to trivialize the seriousness of that, that becomes very concerning for us,” Richmond said in an interview.

Company Moves Forward With Plan

Under the direction of the Japanese government, five methods of disposal were considered.

The final options were steam release, and discharging the treated water over time to dilute its contents. Releasing treated water into the ocean was selected and supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency

The scientific panel though has continually raised questions over the apparent rush to dispose of the wastewater, given fears over contamination. 

Tritium, the key radioactive compound in the liquid, has a half-life of 12.3 years, so encasing the treated water in concrete would deal with the issue without risking potential fallout in the Pacific. 

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting.” – Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta

Richmond says science is developing faster than international standards and regulations, which means current standards may not reflect the best possible solution.

“If they can guarantee and swear that the water will be totally safe by all standards, then why are they still averse to keeping it on site, binding it up in concrete so that it can’t get into people and can’t get into oceanic organisms, rather than making it the transboundary issue it is?” Richmond said. 

TEPCO reiterated that it was following the basic policy set by the Japanese government in April 2021, and that it would “move forward with the construction of discharge facilities with the aim of commencing ocean discharge within approximately two years.”

The power company said construction delays mean the release may not happen until spring or summer, the Associated Press reported

Does Delay Still Mean Inevitable?

Japan has faced pushback from China and South Korea, as well as U.S. territorial governments in the Pacific, despite the U.S. Department of State’s statement that Japan had “been transparent about its decision,” in 2021. 

The House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands introduced a resolution six months later, opposing nuclear testing and waste storage or disposal in the Pacific. The U.S. Territory has its own history with Japan, which planned to dump 10,000 drums of nuclear waste near its waters in the 1970s.

Along with years of nuclear testing and still-lingering waste and pollution from World War II, such treatment of the Pacific region informs current misgivings.

Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta.

Former CNMI House Rep. Sheila Babauta, who introduced the resolution, says that cooperation and engagement with large international institutions such as the U.S. military, at least within Micronesia, have historically been opaque.

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting,” Babauta said in an interview. “We’ve engaged very much with the world around us and have been burned many times. And so it does come with trauma.”

The delay buys Pacific nations time to rally, organize and educate the region on the risks associated with the wastewater release, Babauta says.

But just how long they have is uncertain. 

The decision to delay has curried some favor however from the Federated States of Micronesia, who had voiced opposition to the Japanese plan in September.

Richard Clark, special advisor to the FSM President David Panuelo, said in an email statement that the country was buoyed by Japan’s decision to delay until other Pacific nations “attain the same level of trust in Japan’s intentions and capabilities.”

The Pacific Action Network on Globalisation, a Fiji-based regional watchdog, was concerned that Pacific nations would be in a difficult predicament because Japan is a major regional donor. 

But Joey Tau, deputy coordinator of PANG, says that conundrum pales in comparison to the environmental effects of releasing the wastewater into the Pacific, as forecast by the PIF scientific panel. 

“If Japan decides to go ahead, we will see it as a fundamental breach of human rights,” Tau said in an interview. “We really hope that all other options are exhausted.”


February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amid fears of contamination, Japan will soon dump treated water from Fukushima Nuclear Plant into the Pacific

31 January 2023

Pacific island nations, neighboring countries in Asia, scientists, and others criticized an international organization’s endorsement of plans to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean. The plan to schedule the discharge of approximately 1.3 million tons of water on an ongoing basis for the next three decades has alarmed the Pacific community because of possible adverse impacts on nearby marine ecosystems and their way of life.

Following a January 2023 visit to the Fukushima nuclear facility to receive updates on plans to dispose of the contaminated water, Gustavo Caruso, a Director within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Chair of the Task Force, voiced support for the plans. As an international association, the IAEA says it promotes the “safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” which includes the disposal of nuclear waste.

“[Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority] prepared thorough evidence of how they are aligning the regulatory plans related to […] treated water discharge with the IAEA safety standards,” said Caruso in a statement following the visit. According to the IAEA statement, “Before any water discharge begins – scheduled for this year – the IAEA will issue a comprehensive report containing the collected findings and conclusions of the Task Force across all aspects of the review conducted as of that time.”

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami resulted in a nuclear disaster in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After power was disrupted and emergency generators failed, three nuclear reactors onsite lost cooling capabilities and experienced a core meltdown.

Water used to cool the reactors, along with groundwater below the complex, became contaminated with radioactive materials. This water has been collected, treated, and stored onsite since 2011 in dozens of massive storage tanks that now crowd the nuclear complex.

Since 2021, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been preparing the infrastructure for the “safe” release of Fukushima’s treated water through a process called the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). In August 2022, TEPCO announced the installation of facilities that will allow for water discharge after consulting with Japanese authorities and local residents. It vowed to cooperate with various stakeholders in explaining the systematic release of water and its scientific basis:

We will continue to do our utmost to increase the understanding of people of Fukushima and society at large regarding the handling of ALPS treated water as part of the decommissioning work, by focusing on our efforts to disseminate information based on scientific evidence to parties within and outside Japan in an easy-to-understand manner and taking every opportunity to listen to the concerns and opinions of the public and explain our approach and response.

But Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), reiterated the regional opposition to Japan’s plan of releasing Fukushima’s treated water into the Pacific Ocean:

Based on our experience with nuclear contamination, continuing with ocean discharge plans at this time is simply inconceivable and we do not have the luxury of time to sit around for four decades in order to ‘figure it out.’

The decision for any ocean release is not and should not only be a domestic matter for Japan, but a global and transnational issue that should give rise to the need to examine the issue in the context of obligations under international law.

I am asking today, what our Pacific people did not have the opportunity to ask decades ago when our region and our ocean was identified as a nuclear test field.

PIF enumerated alternative options such as “safe storage and radioactive decay, bioremediation, and use of treated water to make concrete for special applications.”

During a conference held at New Zealand’s University of Otago in November 2022, participants described Japan’s plan as a manifestation of “nuclear colonial violence”:

TEPCO and the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive wastewater into the Pacific shows direct disregard for the sovereignty and self-determination of Pacific peoples and the ocean their livelihoods depend upon.

We condemn attempts by the Japanese government and TEPCO to trivialise the nature and extent of the damages the radioactive wastewater discharge will cause to the people, ocean life, and places of the Pacific.

Speaking on behalf of Pacific civil society groups, Noelene Nabulivou of DIVA for Equality urged Japanese authorities to consider the perspectives of Pacific communities:

Japan’s internal process of approval for this construction needs to consult the Pacific, as it threatens the livelihood of Pacific peoples and the environment we depend heavily on. This is all happening in the context of massive loss and damage from the climate emergency, that is also not of our making.

The Chinese foreign ministry called Japan’s decision to go ahead with its controversial plan “irresponsible” and “self-serving. Meanwhile, the US National Association of Marine Laboratories cited the “lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety.” Robert Richmond, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, noted that “there is a strong consensus internationally that continued use of the ocean for dumping waste is simply not sustainable.”

Local opposition to the contaminated water discharge has been supported by Sato Kazuyoshi, a municipal councilor in Iwaki, a city neighboring the Fukushima nuclear complex. In a Facebook post, Sato said:

On January 13, near the entrance to Onahama Port, Iwaki City, we held a rally, ‘Iwaki Citizens Against the Release of Contaminated Water from Nuclear Power Plants into the Ocean.’ The beginning of this year’s standing. On earlier that day, there were reports that government ministers had confirmed the release (of contaminated water) ‘from spring to summer.’

Since June 2021, we have been holding a this rally on the 13th of every month: ‘Don’t pollute the sea any more!’

At noon, I stood with an illustration banner by Eisaku Ando, a sculptor who moved from Iwaki to Nara, and a placard saying ‘Don’t pour contaminated water into the sea!’ Nearly 20 participants from their respective standpoints said that they would not allow contaminated water to be released into the ocean! and impassioned speeches. A Japanese citizen who had returned from Canada for a visit also joined us, showing the international spread of opposition to the ocean release of contaminated water.

TEPCO is working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been releasing regular reports about the safety procedures being done at Fukushima. IAEA assured the public that it will release its comprehensive report before the actual discharge of treated water in about three months’ time.


February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Forum could sideline Japan over nuclear waste plan

The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seen from Futaba Town, Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2020.

12 January 2023

Japan is at risk of losing its status as a Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue Partner over Tokyo’s nuclear waste dumping plan.

Japan is due to start dumping one million tonnes of nuclear waste from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean in only a few months.

According to Japan’s government, the wastewater is to be treated by an Advanced Liquid Processing System, which will remove nuclides from the water.

It says the water to be discharged into the ocean is not contaminated.

Last year, the Pacific Islands Forum demanded Japan share pivotal information about the plan.

Secretary General Henry Puna said this month that, in order to keep its status, Japan needs to ramp up communication and transparency over the issue.

The message to Japan is, “hey look, has there been a change in your attitude to the Pacific?” he told RNZ Pacific.

“It’s a bit daunting, talking to a big sovereign country like Japan, and also a good, long-standing friend of the Pacific,” Puna said.

The “preferred course of action” is to engage in a “friendly manner” with Japan.

“We’re long-standing friends, and Japan is a very important partner for us in the Pacific,” he said.

“This issue strikes at the very heart of our being as Pacific people. We will not let it go.

“In fact, we are very serious and we will take all options to get Japan to at least cooperate with us by releasing the information that our technical experts are asking of them.

“Because all we want is to be in a position where our experts can say, ‘okay, look, the release is harmless, you can go ahead’, or ‘there are some issues that we need further discussion and further scientific research with Japan’,” he said.

Anger at lack of cooperation

“They’re breaking the commitment that their Prime Minister and our leaders have arrived at when we had our high level summit in 2021,” Puna said.

“It was agreed during that summit that we would have access to all independent scientific and verifiable scientific evidence before this discharge can take place.

“So far, unfortunately, Japan has not been cooperating,” Puna said.

His last conversation with Tokyo was just before Christmas with their ambassador in Suva.

“Japan has come back since then, to indicate that they are amenable to a meeting with our panel of experts in Tokyo sometime early next month.

“But it’s important for us to avoid the frustrations that have been happening to date.

“I have made it clear to Japan that we will not agree to such a meeting unless Japan gives us an undertaking now or before the meeting that they will provide all information that our experts will request of them and provide them in a timely manner because time is of the essence,” Puna said.

What is a ‘Forum Dialogue Partner’?

There are 21 partners, with Japan joining in 1989.

The purpose of the Forum Dialogue Partner mechanism (formally known as the Post Forum Dialogue mechanism), established by Forum Leaders in 1989, is to invite selected countries outside of the Pacific Islands region with significant cooperation and engagement and political or economic interests, to participate in a dialogue with Forum Leaders, according to the Forum website

Other partners include the United States, China, the UK, France, and the European Union.

There are six criteria which must be met to maintain the status.

When questioned on whether or not the government of Japan meets all of them, Puna provided some insight into where Forum leaders are sitting.

Q. Would you say Japan’s actions so far throughout this nuclear issue, and the conversations that have been happening, show that they have dedicated support for the sustainable and resilient development of the Pacific region?

A. One could say that what they’re proposing to do is at total odds with that commitment, or undertaking.

Q. Is Japan’s position on the release date of treated nuclear waste a shared interest and common position that supports foreign priorities?

A. You’re asking some very difficult questions. That really is a decision that our leaders take, we can only advise leaders, but any ultimate decision is to be made at the leaders level.

Q. Is Japan on the brink of being pushed off the table?

A. Of course, you know, that is an option that’s open to the leaders to take. It has happened before, for example, France was continuing with their nuclear testing in Mururoa atoll, they were actually suspended as dialogue partners. But let me emphasise again, that that is a decision that only our leaders can take.

Q. What must Japan do to keep their seat, to give the leaders confidence?

A. This is a good test of Japan’s sincerity and commitment to the Pacific. We’re not stopping, we’re not asking for the discharge not to take place. All we’re asking is for it to be deferred until such time as all relevant information and data is provided to our panel of experts. So they can be in a position to advise our leaders that the discharge is safe or not safe. And if it’s not safe, then also to pull it out and identify areas where it’s not safe, so that we can work with Japan, you know, to resolve those issues.

Q. Is this issue going to be raised at the next Pacific Islands Forum meeting?

A. Well, depending on how it plays out over the next couple of months, it will definitely be raised.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has confirmed it will speak with RNZ Pacific on January 18.

Hiroshima survivor Toshiko Tanaka and her daughter Reiko Tashiro at the ‘Nuclear Connections Across Oceania’ conference.

US marine laboratories opposed to Japan’s plan.

The US National Association of Marine Laboratories, an organisation of more than 100 member laboratories, expressed its opposition in a new paper.

They say there is a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety, and an abundance of data demonstrating serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.

They called on the Government of Japan and International Atomic Energy Agency scientists to more fully and adequately consider the options recommended by the Pacific Islands Forum’s Expert Panel.

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Please stop’ – Pacific pleads with Japan over nuclear waste release

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna says Japan is breaking its commitment to people of the Blue Continent and the world.

Jan 12 2023

Japan must work with the Pacific to find a solution to its nuclear waste plan or we face disaster, the Pacific Islands Forum has warned. In a few months, Japan will start dumping one million tonnes of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna said Tokyo has failed to communicate and be transparent over the release. He said they were concerned because the matter “strikes at the very heart of our Pacific people, and we will not let it go”

This treated water was used to clean up the Fukushima plant after the nuclear accident that followed the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Puna said that over the past 20 months, forum members have been in dialogue with the Japanese government over its April 2021 decision to release the contaminated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific from this year.

“PIF members took the strong position from the outset that Japan should hold off on any such release until we are certain about the implications on the environment and on human health,” Puna told Stuff.

“Pacific peoples are coastal peoples, and the ocean continues to be an integral part of their subsistence living.”

Puna said while Japan is a Forum Dialogue Partner, it risks losing this status over the discharge plan.

Other dialogue partners include the United States, China, United Kingdom, France and the European Union who have significant co-operation, engagement and political or economic interests to participate in a dialogue with Pacific Forum leaders, Puna said.

“Japan is breaking the commitment that their leaders have arrived at when we held our high level summit in 2021,” Puna said.

“It was agreed that we would have access to all independent scientific and verifiable scientific evidence before this discharge takes place. Unfortunately, Japan has not been co-operating.”

Japan said the wastewater was treated by an Advanced Liquid Processing System, which could remove nuclides from the water.

In a statement, a government official maintained the water to be discharged into the ocean was not contaminated.

“This is a good test of Japan’s sincerity and commitment to the Pacific,” Puna said. “Just stop and listen to us. Hear what we have to say.

“All we’re asking is for the release to be deferred until all relevant information and data is provided to our panel of experts, so they can be in a position to advise our leaders that the discharge is safe or not safe.

“If it’s not safe, pull it out and identify areas that are unsafe.”

Storage tanks for radioactive water at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (Tepco) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant

Puna said the decision for any ocean release should not be a domestic matter for Japan, but a global and transnational one.

“It should give rise to the need to examine the issue in the context of obligations under international law.”

The US National Association of Marine Laboratories said there was a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data supporting Japan’s assertion of safety.

In a statement, the organisation of more than 100-member laboratories said there was an abundance of data showing serious concerns about releasing radioactively contaminated water.

The group called on Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to consider the options recommended by the Pacific forum’s expert panel.

The IAEA’s third report on the Fukushima water treatment was published on December 29, urging Japan to adopt an open, transparent, science-based and safe approach in disposing the water, under strict supervision by the IAEA.

The IAEA Task Force visited Japan in February and March last year and released inconclusive reports on their findings.

In July last year, the Tokyo Electric Power Company was given the green light by the government to carry out the discharge expected to start in April.

The company has been approached for comment.–pacific-pleads-with-japan-over-nuclear-waste-release

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pacific states entitled to claims against Japan for discharge of radioactive nuclear wastewater


“We must remind Japan that if the radioactive nuclear wastewater is safe, just dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.” Vanuatu’s famous politician Motarilavoa Hilda Lini spoke for all people living in the Pacific region when making this statement.

The Japanese government announced in April 2021 that it will begin dumping the nuclear wastewater stored at Fukushima into the ocean from the spring of 2023. As that day is approaching, the international community is voicing waves of objection, and people living in the Pacific region have consistently expressed their strong protest. Analysts said if Japan did discharge the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean as planned, the Pacific countries would have the right to claim damages.

Japan decided to just dump the wastewater into the ocean in order to save trouble and money, at the price of transferring nuclear contamination to the whole world, which is extremely irresponsible and selfish. South Pacific countries have suffered enough from nuclear contamination. From 1946 to 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests on the Marshall Islands, the aftermaths of which are still haunting the local residents in the form of radioactive poisoning, contamination of marine species, and leak from radwaste landfill.

The Fukushima nuclear station had the highest-level nuclear accident that produced an enormous amount of nuclear wastewater – more than 1.3 million tons in storage right now. Even though Japanese politicians claimed that the wastewater is safe enough for drinking after being treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), that’s simply not true.

A Japanese NGO recently released an article saying that treated nuclear wastewater still contains 64 kinds of radioactive substances, including tritium, which, once released into the ocean, will contaminate the marine environment and spread through the food chain, till eventually taking a toll on human health and the ecological environment. A report released by Greenpeace, an international environmental protection organization, showed that the technology currently adopted by Japan cannot get rid of the Sr90 and C14 in the wastewater, which are even more damaging than tritium with their half-life of 50 years and 5,730 years respectively.

It’s foreseeable that dumping Fukushima’s more than 1.3 million tons of nuclear wastewater into the ocean is a murderous move for people living along the ocean and will put the marine ecology at stake with irreversible outcomes. A renowned environmental protection organization of Pacific island countries said that such an irresponsible move of transboundary pollution is no different from waging a nuclear war against the people and the islands in the Pacific region.

As a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Japan has knowingly violated them all by making such a dangerous decision. Without exhausting all safe means of disposal, disclosing all information, or fully consulting with surrounding countries and international organizations, the Japanese government went ahead and unilaterally decided to dump its wastewater into the ocean in a flagrant attempt to pass on the disastrous consequences to other Pacific countries. Those countries have every right to defend their rights and interests through legal means.

In fact, there are already precedents for claims of this kind. For instance, the International Arbitration Tribunal ruled in 1938 and 1941 that Canada’s Trail Smelter should compensate America’s State of Washington for the damages caused by the SO2 it emitted. The “Trail Smelter case” is generally considered the basis for holding countries committing transboundary pollution accountable. Countries along the Pacific Ocean can totally refer to it and pursue claims against Japan after scientifically measuring the damages imposed upon them.

The ocean is the common wealth and symbiotic home for humanity. Dumping nuclear wastewater into it is not Japan’s internal affair. Right now the IAEA is still conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the wastewater at Fukushima, and Japan’s pushing for the dumping plan reveals its intention to make it a fait accompli regardless of the concerns of other parties. Japan’s egregious atrocities in history have already caused horrendous miseries to the surrounding countries. Does it plan to add another entry to its infamous track record now?

Editor’s note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online.

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment