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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN General Assembly on Japan’s Discharge of Nuclear Contaminated Water into the Ocean

2023-08-25 18:00

Mr. President,

The Pacific Islands Forum is an important intergovernmental regional organization that has long played an important role in promoting the sustainable development of the island countries, addressing climate change, and maintaining regional peace and stability. China and the Pacific island countries are both located in the Asia Pacific region and are both developing countries with a long history of friendship. China will continue to promote more fruitful relations between the two sides based on the principles of mutual respect and common development, and will continue to support the PIF in strengthening its cooperation with the UN and other international organizations.

Mr. President, 

The ocean is the common property of mankind, and it is the blue home on which the Pacific Island countries depend for their survival. 12 years ago, a serious accident occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, releasing a large amount of radioactive material into the ocean and causing a huge disaster. 12 years later, just yesterday, the Japanese Government unilaterally and forcibly activated the discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean despite the international community's questioning and objections, which in turn, caused a secondary damage to the local population and to people all over the world. The dispose of the nuclear contaminated water has transnational implications and is by no means a private matter for Japan. It is extremely self-serving and irresponsible of Japan to ignore the public interests and openly transfer the risk of nuclear contamination to the whole world, including the Pacific island countries.

There is no precedent for the discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean, nor is there a widely recognized disposal standard. For a long time, there have been grave concerns about the impact of the discharge on marine environment, food safety, and human health. The legitimacy, legality, and the safety of the Japanese side’s approach have been widely questioned by the international community. The Japanese side has yet to address the major concerns of the international community about the long-term reliability of the water treatment equipment, the truthfulness and accuracy of the data on nuclear contaminated water, and the soundness and effectiveness of the monitoring program. China and other stakeholders have repeatedly pointed out that if the contaminated water is safe, there is no need for discharge, If it is not safe, then it should not be discharged into the ocean.

China calls on the international community to jointly urge the Japanese Government to rectify its wrong decision, immediately stop the discharge, communicate in good faith with the countries and stakeholders concerned, and dispose the contaminated water in a responsible manner, so as to avoid causing unpredictable damage and hazard to the global marine environment and the health and well-being of people around the world.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Right of Reply by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN General Assembly

Mr. President, 

I know we have other agenda items to follows. I do not want to take up too much of my colleagues’ time, but I would like to just respond very shortly to the statement by Japan.

In the statements of the Japanese representative and the Japanese Government, they kept mentioning the final assessment report of the IAEA. But I would like to draw the attention of delegates to the fact that the Director General of the agency, Mr. Rafael Grossi, has repeatedly stressed in the foreword to the report and other relevant press conferences that the discharge of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean is a national decision of the Japanese Government and that the report of the Agency is neither a recommendation nor endorsement of such a policy. I think it is abundantly clear to all that the IAEA report is not a license for the Japanese side to push for the release of nuclear contaminated water into the sea. The report does not provide the endorsement for this effort and does not absolve the Japanese side of its moral responsibility and obligations under international law. 

As I just pointed out, the discharge has transnational implications, and is not a domestic matter of Japan alone. Whatever and however they argue is not going to change the fact that in the next 30 years, Japan will discharge millions of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean and it would not change the fact that it is going to pose enormous risks to the environment, human health, etc.

I would like to call on the Japanese Government to address squarely the legitimate concerns of the relevant countries and stakeholders, immediately stop the discharge, engage in good faith with the countries and stakeholders, and address the nuclear contaminated water issue in a responsible manner.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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