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Geng Shuang: Japan should handle the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water issue prudently in an open and transparent manner

2021/06/23

On June 23, Ambassador Geng Shuang, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, pointed out at the 31st Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that China expressed grave concern over the Japanese Government's unilateral decision to dispose of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident by ocean discharge, and urged the Japanese side to effectively fulfill its international obligations and handle the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water issue prudently in an open and transparent manner. The specific statements are as follows:

All countries have the obligation to abide by the provisions of UNCLOS on the protection and preservation of the maritime environment and jointly take care of the home that mankind depends on for survival. Recently, the Japanese government unilaterally decided to dispose of the contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear power plant accident by ocean discharge. China expresses her grave concern to this decision.

The amount of nuclear contaminated water Japan intends to discharge, its duration, the sea area covered, and its potential risks are all unprecedented. Studies have shown that once the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is released into the sea, it will quickly spread to most of the Pacific Ocean, and further to the global waters. The nuclear contaminated water that Japan plans to discharge contains a lot of radioactive substances which will have severe impacts on the maritime environment, ecosystems and human health.

According to the stipulations of UNCLOS, when dealing with nuclear contaminated water, Japan should take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under its jurisdiction or control will not cause damage by pollution to other States and their environment, and to ensure that pollution arising from aforementioned activities will not spread beyond the areas where it exercises sovereign rights. According to international law, including UNCLOS, Japan must also fulfill various obligations, such as timely notification, full consultation, environmental impact assessment and monitoring, international cooperation and information exchange.

Japan is fully aware that the discharge of nuclear contaminated water may cause severe harm to the global marine environment. It is fully aware of its international obligations under UNCLOS and other international treaties. It is also fully conscious of various doubts and opposition at home and abroad. However, before exhausting safe disposal means, disclosing all relevant information, fully consulting with neighboring countries and other stakeholders or coming up with verification arrangement that can be monitored, Japan decided unilaterally to dump the nuclear contaminated water into the sea out of pure economic considerations. This approach is opaque, irresponsible and unfriendly. It is malicious intented, knowingly offensive and self-interested, and it runs counter to the consensus and momentum of the international community to protect and sustainably use the oceans.

China strongly urges Japan to earnestly fulfill its international obligations and handle the Fukushima nuclear contaminated water issue prudently in an open and transparent manner. Without fully negotiating and reaching a consensus with all stakeholders and relevant international institutions, no nuclear-contaminated water can be discharged into the ocean wantonly. Japan should face up to and fulfill its responsibilities to all mankind, and the future generations by avoiding irreversible damage to human health and global marine ecology.

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