Commissioner Mr. Liu Xianfa Published A Signed Article Titled “Japan’s Ocean Discharge Blatantly Tramples on International laws and Human Conscience” in Local Chinese, Portuguese and English Media

On 29 June 2023, Mr. Liu Xianfa, Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Macao Special Administrative Region published a signed article titled Japan’s Ocean Discharge Blatantly Tramples on International laws and Human Conscience in local Chinese, Portuguese and English media. The full text reads as follows:

Japan’s Ocean Discharge Blatantly Tramples on International laws and Human Conscience

By Liu Xianfa

The Japanese government’s plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea has, from the very beginning, been questioned and opposed by the international community. Recently, news from Japan has said that the tritium-laced wastewater from the crippled plant will be released into the sea this summer. It is an extremely irresponsible move for Japan to ignore the professional and authoritative opinions of international agencies and opposition at home and abroad, disregard the global marine environment and public health, and forcibly dump nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.

Japan's ocean discharge will bring endless disaster. The amount of nuclear-contaminated water Japan intends to discharge, its duration, the sea area covered, and its potential risks are all unprecedented. The nuclear-contaminated water contains over 60 radionuclides, many of which cannot be treated effectively with existing technologies. Some long-lived radionuclides may spread with ocean currents and form a bioconcentration effect. The contaminated water, which is expected to be discharged into the ocean over a period of 30 years, has cross-border impact on the marine environment and public health. According to a German marine scientific research institute, with the world's strongest currents along the coast of Fukushima, radioactive materials could spread to most of the Pacific Ocean within 57 days from the date of discharge, and reach all oceans of the globe in a decade. Greenpeace nuclear experts have said that the level of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in the wastewater will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage.

Japan's ocean discharge violates its obligations under the international law. All countries in the world are obliged to abide by the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on protection and preservation of the marine environment, and jointly protect the planet Earth-- our only homeland. According to provisions in general international law and UNCLOS, Japan has the obligation to take all possible measures to prevent pollution of the environment, the obligation to notify and fully consult with states likely to be affected, the obligation to assess and monitor the environmental impact, the obligation to take precautions to minimize hazardous effects, the obligation to ensure transparency, and the obligation to engage in international cooperation. However, the Japanese side has been shunning its responsibilities and international obligations under various pretexts and decided on the ocean discharge plan out of selfish interests. In fact, the Task Force of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is conducting a safety assessment in Japan now, has a very limited mandate as agreed between Japan and the IAEA, and is not authorized to evaluate other options than the discharge into the ocean. Therefore, no final report shall be used as an excuse for Japan to dump the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

Japan’s ocean discharge tramples on human conscience. The dumping plan is not the only way to deal with the nuclear-contaminated water, nor is it the safest and most optimal means of disposal. However, the Japanese side, before exhausting all safe ways of disposal,has unilaterally decided to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean based on economic cost, thus passing on the risk of nuclear pollution to all mankind. The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed that the contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is safe enough to drink once treated. However, according to the data released by the Japanese side, more than 70 percent of the treated water stored in tanks has still exceeded the regulatory standards for discharge. Based on a report from Japan, fish caught in the failed nuclear plant’s harbour has contained levels of radioactive caesium  more than 180 times that of Japan’s legal standard. It is worth noting that some western governments and media keen on hyping up environmental issues such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union and smog and sandstorms in China, respond to the moves of the Japanese government in an extremely calm manner. They avoid talking about the hazard of the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, and some even acquiesce to Japan’s move. Their hypocrisy and double standards are evident.

It should be pointed out that the sea is not Japan's dustbin, nor the Pacific Ocean its sewer. Instead of sacrificing human well-being and standing in opposition to the international community,the Japanese side should face up to international concerns, earnestly fulfill its international obligations, stop pushing forward the ocean discharge plan, and fully study and validate the best alternative to ocean discharge to ensure the nuclear-contaminated water is handled in a scientific, open, transparent and safe manner, and under international oversight.