Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida Regarding His Visit to Fukushima Prefecture and Other Matters
Earlier today, I visited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for the first time in 1 year and 10 months. Both at home and abroad, the Japanese Government has promised that it will ensure safety when discharging ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water. The pre-service inspections conducted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) ended last month, and I myself received from Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), its Comprehensive Report, which concludes that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is consistent with relevant international safety standards and will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment. During this latest visit, I inspected the facility for discharging ALPS treated water into the sea and the ALPS facility used to purify the contaminated water. I also met those in charge of the operation who gave me their firsthand briefing on the status of efforts to ensure the safety of discharging ALPS treated water into the sea. As the discharge of ALPS treated water is a long-term task, I requested TEPCO to stay on guard and take all possible measures as a whole company to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage under the sincere leadership of its chairman and president. Through our explanation so far, I believe that cool-headed reaction based on scientific expertise has prevailed on an international basis. We will continue to disseminate relevant information in a highly transparent and detailed manner based on scientific grounds both domestically and internationally, including the details of the IAEA’s Comprehensive Report.
(On his reaction and thoughts on today’s visit to Fukushima and the timing to start the discharge of treated water into the sea; his plans to meet with the head of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations (Zengyoren) and hold a meeting of relevant ministers regarding the discharge; and whether he intends to directly provide explanation on the discharge in a Summit Meeting with China and other countries)
As I said earlier, I inspected the facilities today, listened to the firsthand voices of on-site staff and confirmed the determination TEPCO’s top executives. I was directly briefed on the efforts made with a sense of tension to ensure safety in discharging ALPS treated water into the sea. We will determine the timing to start the discharge after assessing the status of efforts to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage under the initiative of the Government as a whole. Let me therefore refrain from stating the specific timing at this time. Meanwhile, I hope to meet with Mr. SAKAMOTO Masanobu, head of Zengyoren, and other representatives of the fisheries industry as early as tomorrow. No specific decision has been made, however, as Minister Nishimura is currently coordinating the scheduling of this meeting. Regarding the explanation to the international community, including China, we have actively taken advantage of occasions such as international conferences and bilateral talks, as well as various tools such as the Government’s website and SNS, carefully explaining and disseminating Japan’s efforts and the conclusions of the IAEA’s Comprehensive Report, among others. At the same time, the Government has appropriately opposed claims that are not based on scientific grounds. As a result, I am aware that cool-headed reaction based on scientific expertise has prevailed internationally as well. The Government as a whole, myself included, will continue to take every opportunity to provide and disseminate highly transparent explanation and information that are based on scientific grounds, in order to promote understanding of the international community, and not only that of China.
(On whether the Government has gained understanding from the people concerned, including those in the fisheries industry; whether the Government’s explanation so far has been sufficient; how the Government will respond to reputational damage feared to be caused by the discharge; and the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station)
We decided our basic policy of discharging ALPS treated water into the sea in 2021. Since then, the Government has continued to provide various explanation, and especially after the Comprehensive Report by the IAEA was issued last month, the entire Government, including Minister Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and Minister Watanabe, Minister of Reconstruction, has repeatedly provided detailed explanation to the people concerned, including those in the local fisheries industry. We have received concerns and requests from fishermen regarding reputational damage and continuity of their livelihoods. The discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is a long-term task, and we believe that it is necessary to respond by continuing to stay considerate of these concerns. I myself intend to convey the Government’s thoughts directly to those in the fisheries industry. Regarding reputational damage, it is most important to make efforts to curb the damage by steadily disseminating information on ensuring safety and other matters both domestically and internationally in a transparent way based on scientific grounds. The Government as a whole will make utmost efforts to take measures against reputational damage. Moreover, as a preparatory step in case of reputational damage, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has set up a fund of 30 billion yen to support the expansion of sales channels, temporary storage and purchase of marine products. Should reputational damage persist nonetheless, TEPCO has a system in place to provide appropriate compensation, and we will respond justly. Regarding decommissioning, we plan to start the removal of fuel debris on a trial basis as early as the second half of this fiscal year. As we further step up the decommissioning process, new facilities need to be built to ensure steady progress. This is another reason why it is necessary to dispose of the ALPS treated water and reduce the number of tanks in which it is contained. From this viewpoint, I have stated that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is an issue that cannot be postponed in order to advance decommissioning and the reconstruction of Fukushima. The Government as a whole will continue to take all possible measures to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage.