Mayors vs. Japan waste plan

The Japan plan to dispose of waste water in the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant was on the agenda for the Marshall Islands Mayors Association last Saturday. Yukiko Hata, Director for International Issues/Waste Management of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Nuclear Accident Response Office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Japan Ambassador Kazunari Tanaka met with the mayors to discuss the imminent start to the program. Assistant Secretary of Internal Affairs Antari Elbon is to the left of the ambassador. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

HILARY HOSIA

The idea of Japan releasing waste water from a nuclear power plant into the ocean did not sit well with local mayors attending the Marshall Islands Mayors Association summit at the International Conference Center over the weekend.

The mayors, most of whom are avid fishermen, disliked the idea of what they perceive as “poison” mixing with existing radiation in the islands. “We cannot allow ‘poison’ to mix with the poison already in our islands,” Jabat Mayor Heinkey Lomae said during the Q&A session.

Kwajalein Executive Councilman Telmong J. Kabua acting as proxy to Mayor Hirata Kabua, said “If Japan thinks the radioactive water is safe, then why not bury it in Japan? Why not dump it on land? Land does not move, water does.”

Kwajalein Councilman Telmong Kabul, right, with Lae Executie Councilman Koboj Langrine at the Marshall Islands Mayors Association meeting with the Japan government team. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Director of International Issues/Waste Management for the Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Yumiko Hata said the radioactive water has been treated through the Advanced Liquid Process System and will be harmless to people and sea life. Yukiko, who came to Majuro for three days to meet with island leaders including MIMA about the imminent start to the disposal of the waste water into the Pacific Ocean, said leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum are in dialogue with experts from Japan.

This initiative was objected to by Telmong who said Pacific Islands Forum nations are not victims of radioactive materials like Marshall Islands.

“Let us not forget the quote from Darlene Keju-Johnson when she addressed the World Council of Churches in 1983 in Canada: We are the victims,” Telmong said.

In short, the mayors agreed they are against being victims of nuclear radiation.

Yukiko was joined by Japan Ambassador Kazunari Tanaka at the discussion with the mayors at the ICC last Saturday.

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