Given our Blue Pacific region’s ongoing nuclear testing legacy, and our collective commitment to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) – also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga – the Forum will always exercise the highest levels of caution on all nuclear related 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”.

The decision by the Government of Japan to request Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) prepare for release the treated water currently stored at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean, with the first treated water set to be discharged on or after 24 August, comes after over 28 months of consultations, including at the highest political level, and at the scientific level between the Pacific Islands Forum and the Government of Japan and PIF and the IAEA.

We note the IAEA’s recommendations that the plans by Japan are consistent with international nuclear safeguards and that impacts on the environment and human health are negligible. At the same time, we appreciate the advice rendered by the independent PIF panel of scientific experts.

It is not lost on me that there remains diverging views and responses in the international community, and within our Blue Pacific region.

As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I am committed to maintaining ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA on 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.

The Forum Secretariat will continue to facilitate ongoing dialogue with the Government of Japan and the IAEA to ensure that Forum Members are privy to the latest information and updates. And, as Forum Chair, I will continue to strive towards working and consulting closely with my colleague Leaders.