This year marks the 76th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons for the purpose of war. As the world solemnly observes the tragic anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we wish to highlight the Pacific’s own and often overlooked nuclear history that followed.
As guardians of the world’s largest ocean, we emphasise again our continuing concern for our region and the irreparably damages on our people and the environment from 318 nuclear weapons tests undertaken by the United States, United Kingdom and France.
Today, we acknowledge that our region has still not healed from this trauma and that we did not consent. Given this legacy, we call on Japan to not repeat this brutality through its proposed act of discharging over a million tonnes of radioactive wastewater from Fukushima.
The nuclear legacy is a legacy of prioritising techno-solutionism and militarism over human welfare for over three quarters of a century. Three quarters of a century, of living under a militaristic narrative of maintaining “peace and security” for the common good of all mankind through the flawed concept of “nuclear deterrence”. Three quarters of a century with trillions of dollars and invaluable resources allocated to the creation and maintenance of doomsday weaponry rather than the needs of humanity. Three quarters of a century, in which over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted, including 318 in our region alone, Three-quarters of a century of thousands of lives were taken with more at risk due to the ongoing legacy of nuclear tests. Three quarters of a century during which we the children of the Pacific have paid, and continue to pay, a disproportionate price for this alleged “peace and security”, because of numerous nuclear tests in the Pacific. Three quarters of a century of living with a toxic legacy of destructive militaristic programs that are still impacting our ocean, islands, and people.
This destructive legacy of nuclear contamination through nuclear testing is still strongly felt throughout our region. The Marshall Islands, Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), Australia and Kiribati have not been effectively remedied or addressed by the nuclear-armed nations of the United States, France and the United Kingdom respectively. This legacy is defined by debilitating health and intergenerational maladies as well as a failure to effectively environmentally remediate the test sites that poison the islands and waterways that we rely on.
We call on our Pacific leaders to honour this proud heritage of, standing against colonialism, militarism, and any actions that shall despoil our sea of islands and maintain a nuclear-free and independent Pacific.
We welcome the statements from China and South Korea who have condemned Japan’s plans to discharge radioactive waste, in the form of wastewater from its Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean. We call upon our Pacific and global leaders to take a bold stand and to condemn Japan’s toxic plans.
We ask our leaders, given our Pacific’s devastating nuclear legacy, to continue to pressure Japan based on the Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting (PALM) in ensuring international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments. We also call on our leaders to reallocate this issue to the top of the agenda of the recently created Nuclear Legacy Task Force with the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) and the Pacific Islands Forum more broadly, if they are truly faithful to their commitments under The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty of Rarotonga (1985).
We condemn the Japanese government’s own extensive history of dumping nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean.
We furthermore reject Japan’s flawed argument that their proposed dumping is “safe” and “harmless”. We, as people from the Pacific, have heard this too many times to count from colonial powers. We reject your attempt to weaponize science against us with claims that dilution and purification will make it safe. We note that this claim has been dismissed by both China and South Korean including environmental groups. Japanese civil society is also petitioning their own government. Pacific peoples are the ones who will bear the consequences of Japan’s actions and therefore, it either stops here or we deserve our own independent expert review into this proposed action.
This decade (2021-2030) is marked as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. We call upon the Japanese government to recognise that the Pacific Ocean is an economic, spiritual and cultural base of our people’s wellbeing. Your actions will not just threaten our people and the Pacific Ocean, but the health and wellbeing of all the planet’s oceans and the people who depend upon them.
We stand firmly opposed to militarism, environmental degradation, and the violation of our human rights. We reiterate our previous call for New Clear Ways and call on the region to continue in its pursuit of nuclear justice.
Let us all work towards turning this nuclear legacy into a new chapter in Pacific Ocean history, in which it is not used for nuclear testing or nuclear waste dumping. We as custodians of the Pacific Ocean would rather protect it than see it once more be the object of a destructive reality. We know how irreversible and permanently damaging nuclear waste pollution is.
Learn from history, and practice New Clear Ways!
This story was produced by Joey Tau and Talei Luscia Mangioni, published by Youngsolwara on 3 September 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.