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Open Letter: WILPF Stands Against Radioactive Water Release from Fukushima Daiichi 

The government of Japan will start releasing wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant on Thursday, 24 August 2023. This wastewater has tritium which contains radioactive substances. WILPF is strongly opposed to this and considers this release of radioactive materials as an act of harm that could further contaminate the environment, and adversely impact the people and marine life in and around the Pacific nations. WILPF is a feminist peacebuilding organisation, we believe that environmental justice is one of the key pathways to peace and a just world. We must act now to protect the environment and people who share the Pacific Ocean.

Image credit: Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO
WILPF International Secretariat
22 August 2023

Read our open letter below and share as widely as possible. This is the time to act.

Open Letter from WILPF

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan       

…..

Stop the release of waste water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the ocean: Protect our people and environment – do not further contaminate our “Blue Pacific”!

After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, the Japanese government and plant owner TEPCO failed to take countermeasures to protect groundwater, resulting in large amounts of radioactive contaminated water. This radioactively contaminated water has been treated by a multinuclide removal system (ALPS) and stored in more than 1,000 tanks on the power plant site. The Japanese government and TEPCO, making promises to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation, the National Federation of Fisheries, and the people of Fukushima Prefecture, have previously stated that this ALPS treated water will not be disposed of in any way without the consent of the concerned parties, and will be stored on land.

Now, in complete contradiction to these assurances, the Japanese government and TEPCO are about to release this ALPS treated water into the Pacific ocean. These actions could have damaging and lasting consequences for the people and the environment in the Pacific region. We, women of Asia-Pacific, strongly oppose risking further radioactive contamination of our “Blue Pacific,” which has nurtured life since ancient times and is the source of lives and livelihoods!

The release of this contaminated water is in direct violation of Japanese domestic law, which prohibits exceeding 1 mSv/year at the plant’s site boundary. It also conflicts with the London Convention, ratified by Japan in 1980, which strictly regulates the dumping of radioactive waste into the ocean. This action will damage the trust between Japan and its neighbors and the Pacific Islands countries.

The vast amounts of radioactive materials that flowed into the air from the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the accident already fell mostly into the ocean, and continue to leak into the air and into the ocean to this day. This latest release of radioactive materials through nuclear waste water is an act of harm that will adversely impact the people and marine life in and around the Pacific nations.

Based on precautionary principles, radioactive waste should be stored on land for a long period of time under strict safety control to prevent any unforeseen health hazards and ecological disturbances in the future. The ALPS treated water contains tritium, which cannot be removed, as well as many other radioactive materials that remain in the water. Even if the water is diluted below the “standard value” before being released, the absolute amount of radioactive materials will not be reduced. Tritium will be dumped into the ocean for several decades in an amount approximately 10 times that before the accident. Can we really be sure that there will be no impact on people’s health or the marine ecosystem?  

The IAEA’s recent summary report on the matter was a review of plans that had already been decided by the government, not a thorough assessment taking into account the aforementioned future biological impacts and the interests of all people sharing the Pacific Ocean who might be affected. Nor has there been an “optimization” review that includes other less expensive and safer alternatives, so it cannot be said to be a comprehensive assessment. Yet, the Japanese government is misleading the Japanese people and the rest of the world by promoting the IAEA report as if it were an international endorsement. Meanwhile, experts have proposed various concrete alternatives to ocean release. 

The Japanese government and TEPCO should give priority to the human rights perspective of protecting the global environment and the health, lives, and livelihoods of all human beings. Abandon the ocean release plan, and reconsider other alternatives that do not risk further radioactivity in the environment.

Once released, it cannot be undone.

It is not too late. Now is the time to be courageous and stop the plan to release radioactive water into the ocean.

– WILPF International Secretariat on behalf of WILPF Sections and allies in the Asia-Pacific region

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Thank you!

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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