Anti-nuclear group condemns Fiji PM Rabuka’s Fukushima wastewater stance

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Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station
Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station . . . International Atomic Energy Agency's report defended by Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. Image: Tokyo Electric Power Co/TEPCO/Wikipedia

By Kelvin Anthony, RNZ Pacific lead digital and social media journalist

Pacific anti-nuclear advocacy groups and campaigners have condemned the Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s backing of Japan’s plans to release over one million tonnes of treated nuclear wastewater from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean.

On Thursday, Rabuka announced he was “satisfied” with Japan’s efforts to demonstrate that the release will be safe.

He said he had read the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report which “works for us” and that he “trusts their expert judgment and monitoring process”.

He also encouraged others to read the report.

“It is my job as a leader to treasure and reassure myself and to reassure you that I am paying close attention to this,” he said.

“With Japanese friends and other partners including the IAEA, I will personally be ensuring the highest possible standards of safety and protection for our vast liquid continent and under my leadership, Fiji will continue to defend our precious Pacific home.”

The IAEA has said Japan has checked off all boxes to ensure the imminent release of the treated nuclear waste would be consistent with international standards.

AFG Fiji ‘deeply concerned’
However, the Alliance for Future Generation Fiji said it was “deeply concerned” and “condemned” Rabuka’s stance.

The group is urging Rabuka to reconsider “and take a stronger position” on the issue.

AFG Fiji said releasing treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean would have “far-reaching consequences for the entire Pacific region and beyond”.

“This action has the potential to inflict lasting damage to marine ecosystems, threatening the livelihoods of countless communities that depend on the ocean for sustenance and economic well-being. Our concerns regarding this matter are deeply rooted in the Pacific Ocean as a source of identity for all Pacific communities,” AFG Fiji said.

“We urge the Fiji Prime Minister and by extension, his government, to reconsider its stance and take a stronger position in advocating for the implementation of alternative, safe, and sustainable solutions for the Fukushima nuclear wastewater.

“We also urge Pacific leaders to trust the independent panel of scientific experts, appointed by the Pacific Islands Forum to review the data and information provided by Japan. As members of the global community, it is our collective responsibility to uphold principles of environmental stewardship and to prioritise the health and safety of our oceans and the lives they sustain,” the NGO said.

The campaigners are also calling on the international community to show solidarity and “demand that Japan seeks alternative solutions to handle its nuclear waste responsibly”.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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