Forum Reaffirms Ongoing Dialogue as Japan Readies First Fukushima Water Release

Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has reasserted his commitment to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA, as Japan prepares to release treated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean on or after August 24.

The decision made by Japan, following more than two years of deliberations involving high-level political and scientific consultations, has generated mixed reactions globally and within the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), as leaders grapple with environmental and health considerations.

In a statement today, Brown highlighted the region’s ongoing nuclear testing legacy and the collective dedication to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ), also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga. He said that the Forum would consistently exercise the highest levels of caution in all matters related to nuclear issues.

“As related to the complex case of the Japan Fukushima nuclear wastewater issue, PIF Leaders have continued to prioritise the importance of “international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments,” he said.

Brown noted that the Forum acknowledges the IAEA’s recommendations affirming that Japan’s plans are in line with international nuclear safeguards and that the anticipated impacts on the environment and human health are negligible. However, he also pointed out the Forum’s awareness of the differing international and regional opinions concerning this matter.

“As custodians of our Blue Pacific Continent, and in recognition of the transboundary and transgenerational nature of this issue, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure the highest level of due diligence and ongoing monitoring of the planned discharge. In this respect, and while we note the recent decision announced by Japan on the release date, Forum Leaders will as a matter of priority consider latest developments in our next meeting, as will Foreign Forum Ministers when they meet next month.”

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