• Environment

IAEA Chief to Visit S. Korea, Cook Islands, N.Z. over Japan’s Treated Nuclear Plant Water

Reuters
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi holds a press conference in Kyiv on June 13.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency plans to visit South Korea, the Cook Islands and New Zealand in July, regarding the ocean discharge of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, several government sources said.

Rafael Grossi is expected to brief each country on the contents of a comprehensive report, which will include the international nuclear watchdog’s assessment of the safety of the ocean discharge.

Grossi is scheduled to visit Japan on July 4 to hand the comprehensive report to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before going to the three countries.

The IAEA has so far released six reports, in which it has described the method of and facilities for the discharge as “appropriate,” and it is expected to maintain the same view in the soon-to-be-compiled comprehensive report.

China’s government has made comments, with little scientific basis, that the “Pacific Ocean is not Japan’s sewer for discharging its nuclear contaminated water.”

The Japanese government hopes that Grossi’s visit to the three nations will lead to a better understanding of the issue among countries concerned.

This year, the Cook Islands will chair the Pacific Islands Forum, which comprises Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific island nations and others.

Nations in the South Pacific have traditionally been strongly opposed to nuclear power due to repeated nuclear tests conducted in the region in the past by countries such as the United States and France.

In order to stress the safety of the ocean discharge, Japan’s government has dispatched officials including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi as envoys with the intention of delivering a letter from Kishida to the leaders of all 14 Pacific island nations this year.

South Korea and New Zealand also have strong feelings against Japan’s planned discharge of treated water into the ocean. In South Korea, an opposition party continues to make baseless claims regarding the planned discharge, seemingly fomenting unease among the public. They are apparently trying to use the issue to ratchet up pressure on the government led by President Yoon Suk Yeol, saying his administration is “not trying to protect the people.”

Grossi’s planned visit to the three countries is believed to have been planned with this aspect in mind.