Fiji’s former top diplomat criticised Japan’s treated nuclear wastewater release plan, saying “Japan, as a PIF Dialogue Partner, should have been sensitive to the needs and feelings of PIF members..”

Fiji’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs has criticised Japan’s plan to release more than one million tonnes of treated nuclear wastewater from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Ambassador Kaliopate Tavola expressed his disappointment, questioning why Japan did not take any alternative possibilities for the treated wastewater when its own fishing community were against the dumping plan.

“If the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given the thumbs up, then the treated wastewater concerned would naturally raise its utility value to the extent that it can be better used, for example to clean the roads or for firefighting,” the former Minister said.

Emphasising the regional involvement, Tavola stressed the need for Japan to consider the interest of Pacific Island countries that are also the member of the IAEA.

“Japan should have considered their interests with due respect.

“It is a betrayal in the sense that Japan is not being loyal and respectful to the Pacific Islands Forum as Japan itself being a Dialogue Partner for Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). 

“It is betrayal to its own fisherfolks who have objected to the release,” Ambassador Tavola told Pasifika Environews

Addressing the ongoing divisions within the Pacific Islands Forum, Tavola conveyed certainty in the Forum’s ability to restore unity and solidarity among its members.

“There is division in PIF, but this is nothing new. 

“PIF will bounce back to find its unity and strength in solidarity.

“The geography of PIF members requires us to be united to attain our strength and solidarity. Such will always drive our need for regionalism in the future,” he said.

The former  diplomat also criticised the other metropolitical countries neglecting the Rarotonga Treaty that outlines principles of nuclear-free zones and the prohibition of nuclear testing within the South Pacific region.

“Japan, as a PIF Dialogue Partner should have been sensitive to the needs and feelings of PIF members as represented by the provisions of the Rarotonga Treaty.

“Not only that, even Australia, a PIF member, has also trashed the Rarotonga Treaty through AUKUS, notwithstanding its statement trying to clear herself of that criticism.”

As Japan is likely to attend the Pacific Forum Leaders meeting in Cook Islands, Tavola urged Pacific leaders to use the opportunity to “castigate” Japan.

“Too often PICs have been treated as pawns by metropolitan countries, especially when it comes to geopolitics and their respective agency trashed.

“PICs should use the opportunity of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to pave a new way forward, especially when it comes to addressing geopolitics,” said Ambassador Tavola.

He also suggested Pacific Island country leaders to discuss the possibility of enforcing trade bans on Japanese exports.

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