IADL urges the Japanese government and TEPCO to immediately withdraw their plans to discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) announced plans to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, site of the 2011 nuclear disaster, in the summer of 2023 and predict that discharge will continue for 30 years. The government claims the contaminated water will be diluted and made safe through a treated process called ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System). However, this process only dilutes the contaminated water and does not remove tritium.
In Japan, the fishermen’s union in Fukushima opposes the release of contaminated water. Outside of Japan, China, South Korea, and other Pacific nations have also voiced opposition. This will have a particularly serious impact on the people of the Pacific nations (Northern Marianas-Saipan, Tinian, and Rota), where fish is a staple part of their life. Local federal legislators, fishermen, and citizens have voiced their opposition.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Grossi visited Japan and issued a report on 4 July 2023. The report assures that the discharge approach and actions are consistent with international safety standards and that the impact on people and the environment is negligible. However, IAEA is an international organization established in the 1950s under the U.S. Atoms for Peace campaign to promote nuclear power. Although releasing contaminated water violates people’s right to health under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the IAEA is trying to prioritize promoting nuclear power over people’s health.
South Korean President Yoon and Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida sent an investigation team to Fukushima in May 2023, but the public in South Korea has opposed this, declaring that the investigation will only allow the release of contaminated water.
The International Convention on the Law of the Sea imposes an obligation upon the member states to preserve and protect the marine environment (Article 192) and to take measures to prevent pollution to other states (Article 194). It also imposes an obligation to conduct environmental impact assessments (Article 206). However, the Japanese government has not taken these actions.
Three UN Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council issued a statement in April 2021 condemning the release of contaminated water, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) also issued a statement of condemnation at the UN Human Rights Council in 2022. The Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) issued a resolution in 2021.
Nuclear power remains legal, unlike nuclear weapons: the NPT and TPNW treaties allow the peaceful use of nuclear energy instead of nuclear nonproliferation. However, nuclear power plants can cause extensive damage in accidents and provoke military action aimed at nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants are a danger to humankind with no defined method for the final disposal of nuclear waste.
Therefore, IADL demands that the Japanese government and TEPCO immediately withdraw their plans to discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Adopted by the IADL Council
2 July 2023, updated 5 July 2023