Hundreds of Fijians marched in Suva on Friday to protest against Japan’s decision to start discharging treated nuclear wastewater from the Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean. The protesters, organized by the Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights, chanted slogans such as “Protect our ocean and our future generations” and “Japan take your money, take your waste, we don’t need it”.
The protesters expressed their concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of the wastewater discharge, which Japan claims is safe and meets international standards. They also called on the Fijian government and other Pacific leaders to take a stronger stance against Japan’s plan and to protect the interests of the Pacific people.
The protest march came a day after Japan began releasing the first batch of more than 1.2 million tons of treated wastewater into the ocean, following years of debate and controversy. Japan says the water has been filtered and diluted to remove most radioactive elements, except for tritium, which is considered harmless in small amounts. Japan also says it has consulted with neighboring countries and international organizations, and that the discharge is necessary to make room for more contaminated water at the Fukushima site.
However, many Pacific islanders are skeptical and fearful of Japan’s move, as they have a long history of suffering from nuclear testing and accidents in the region. They worry that the wastewater could affect their marine resources, food security, tourism, and cultural identity. They also accuse Japan of ignoring their voices and violating their human rights.