Japan has assured the Pacific Islands Forum it will not discharge the nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean if it is not safe to do so.
This was said when the Pacific Islands Forum secretary general, Henry Puna, met with Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yoshimasa Hayashi, as part of Japan’s official visit to Fiji last weekend.
The discharge of the Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean was one of the key issues that was discussed.
After the massive tsunami in 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power station was destroyed and the reactors were cooled with water.
Japan has stated that the radioactive wastewater from Fukushima would be disposed into the Pacific Ocean. This would happen after the water has been treated.
Mr Puna said there was a need to work together in an open and transparent manner, including amongst experts, to ensure no harm to the ocean, environment, and health of peoples.
He further emphasised the paramount need for access to all data and evidence underpinning Japan’s decision and requested to defer the commencement of discharge until the PIF independent panel of experts can provide forum leaders with the necessary advice based on access to all data and information.
“Japan is an important Forum Dialogue Partner and bilateral partner to Forum Members. There is mutual appreciation of the common priorities we share, particularly around enhanced cooperation with the Forum; collaboration through the PALM Leaders meeting building on the success of PALM 9; and ongoing aspects of geopolitical positioning and security,” Mr Puna said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Japan has been very cooperative in providing all data and information in relation to the treatment of the wastewater from Fukushima.
The Forum had delegated a team of independent scientists to look at the data and find out if the discharge would be safe for the Pacific. This report is yet to be made public.
A range of other common Japan-Blue Pacific priorities were discussed between Mr Puna and Mr Hayashi.
The meeting also covered updates on the Tokyo-based Japan Pacific Islands Centre, established in 1996 between the Forum and Japan to strengthen mutual trade and investment opportunities within the Pacific.
“As the Centre marks more than 25 years, the meeting with Minister Hayashi was a chance to envision its role for the next 25 years and ensure a strengthened role for Pacific Island countries in the governance of the Centre,” Mr Puna said.
There is concern within the scientific committee that if the radioactive wastewater is not treated well it could find its way into the food system.
There is also no clear indication as to how the water would be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.