Intensive dialogue continues at 5th PIF-Japan meeting on Fukushima wastewater

Forum experts will meet with the IAEA in virtual mode in early June, to discuss the planned discharge of treated nuclear wastewater from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean.

The session with the International Atomic Energy Agency experts comes after Pacific Islands Forum and Japan scientific experts met for a fifth time on June 1, 2023 to further discuss a number of technical issues.

This meeting follows their fourth meeting held April 14, 2023, and in pursuit of a clearer understanding on the data and information, and thereby on matters related to the safety or otherwise to Pacific Island states of Japan’s proposed plans.

The fifth meeting was co-chaired by PIF Acting Secretary General, Dr Filimon Manoni, and Mr Shinichi Sato, Director of the International Nuclear Energy Cooperation Division of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Acting SG Manoni recalled and emphasised the assurance by Prime Minister Kishida that Japan will not discharge the ALPS treated nuclear wastewater until such time that that it is verifiably safe to do so and based on a relationship built of trust and in the spirit of friendship.

Intensive scientific dialogue will continue next week when PIF experts meet a second time with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts, following a first meeting on 20 April 2023.

Further, an Informal Working Group of Forum Members are looking at international legal issues related to the proposed plans.

These include identification of relevant international legal treaties and instruments, and assessment of related rules and mechanisms, noting the transboundary and intergenerational issues related to the ocean, environment, health, and human rights.

In a high-level face to face meeting between the Forum Chair, the Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at an initial meeting in Tokyo on February 7, 2023, concerns over urgent sharing of scientific information and progressing political dialogue were raised.

They agreed on further intensive dialogue at the scientific and political level, affirming the need for facilitated exchange of information and dialogue between Japan and PIF experts, and the importance of science and data to guide the political decision on the discharge.

At the Special Leaders Retreat on 24 February 2023, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders “recalled their strong concerns for the significance of the potential threat of nuclear contamination to the health and security of the Blue Pacific, its people and prospects, and reaffirmed the importance of ensuring international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments as per the PALM9 Declaration”.

The PIF Panel of Independent Scientific Experts continue to support Forum Members with independent scientific assessments of data and information provided by Japan on its plans to discharge over a million tonnes of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean over the next four decades.

As articulated at the First Rarotonga Treaty States Parties Meeting held 15 December 2020, Forum Members “urge[d] Japan to take all steps necessary to address any potential harm to the Pacific” and “to take all appropriate measures within their territory, jurisdiction or control to prevent significant transboundary harm to the territory of another state, as required under international law”.


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