Rabuka’s nuclear wastewater discharge stance splits Fiji coalition opinion

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Retired academic Professor Vijay Naidu and Fonu Emberson-Bain -- wearing the Fiji Anti-Nuclear Group (FANG) tee-shirt
Retired academic Professor Vijay Naidu and Fonu Bain-Vete -- wearing the Fiji Anti-Nuclear Group (FANG) tee-shirt -- at Friday's big Suva protest against Japan's Fukushima treated nuclear wastewater dump in the Pacific. Image: Whānau Hub/APR

RNZ Pacific

One of Fiji’s three deputy prime ministers, Viliame Gavoka, has appealed to the country’s prime minister to review his stance on Japan’s disposal of treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka supports Japan’s compliance with safety protocols outlined by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, Rabuka also spoke about the need for an independent scientific assessment.

He has also signed off on the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s Udaune Declaration on Climate Change, in which his fellow prime ministers of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Oslands and Vanuatu, and spokersperson of FLNKS of New Caledonia, “strongly urged Japan “not to discharge the treated water into the Pacific Ocean until and unless the treated water is incontrovertibly proven scientifically to be safe to do so and seriously consider other options like use in concrete”.

Japan has, however, already begun the release of the treated nuclear wastewater in spite of strong condemnation from the region and across the world.

Gavoka, who is also leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), further highlighted the concerns of his party’s Youth section which also implored Rabuka to reconsider his position.

Sitiveni Rabuka, sitting middle, signs up to the Udaune Declaration on Climate Change in Port Vila (24 August 2023)
Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka (sitting middle, flanked by host Vanuatu PM Ishmael Kalsakau, left, and Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare) signs up to the Udaune Declaration on Climate Change and the Efate Declaration on Security at the 22nd Melanesian Spearhead Group Leader’s Summit in Port Vila. last week. Image: RNZ Pacific/Kelvin Anthony

The SODELPA leader acknowledged the diversity of opinions within the coalition government and the allowance for conscience votes, underlining the dynamics of political relationships.

SODELPA general-secretary Viliame Takayawa is also concerned, particularly noting the view that Rabuka has taken on the role of a national leader.

He confirmed that the party intends to communicate directly with the prime minister on Tuesday to raise this pressing issue.

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

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