Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida Regarding the discharge of ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) Treated Water into the sea
[Initial remarks by Prime Minister Kishida]
Let me first make some initial remarks. Today, I met and had a candid exchange of views with Mr. SAKAMOTO Masanobu, head of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations (Zengyoren), and other representatives of the federation. Based on today’s discussion, we will convene tomorrow morning a meeting of relevant ministers to reconfirm the status of efforts made to ensure safety and prevent reputational damage and decide on the specific scheduling for TEPCO’s discharge of ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water into the sea as a whole Government. On this occasion, let me say a few words on the necessity of discharging ALPS treated water into the sea and its background.
Since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011, the Government has worked on the reconstruction of the disaster-affected areas as a top priority under the slogan: “There will be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Fukushima.” For restoring lives and livelihoods in Fukushima and achieving its reconstruction, the steady decommissioning of the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a task that cannot be postponed. Over the upcoming decades, we will take the steps to steadily carry out an internationally unprecedented task of decommissioning the stricken reactors. In order to minimize risks, we will pursue the utmost possible safety in carefully conducting waste disposal. The discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is an essential step that serves as a prerequisite for the long-term decommissioning process, including the development of various technologies for debris retrieval and storage, as well as the education and training for that purpose.
Why is the discharge of ALPS treated water essential for decommissioning? First, there are still 1,000 units of spent nuclear fuel in the pools of the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. They need to be moved from the reactor buildings to a safe place. We need to find a place to secure the space for this purpose, and another space required for retrieving and storing the remains of the fuel rods that melted in the reactors, known as debris. Moreover, for debris retrieval, we require a space for education and training on various technological developments and operation of new equipment. Even now, 100 tons of groundwater and rainwater flow into the reactors every day. There are more than 1,000 tanks storing the water that has been treated over the past 12 years. We are running out of space necessary to further steadily advance the decommissioning process of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. To ride out this situation, we cannot skirt around the issue of disposing the ALPS treated water, which is a prerequisite for decommissioning.
Based on more than six years of sincere deliberations by experts, in April 2021, we decided on the basic policy of conducting the discharge into the sea in around two years, on the condition that safety and thorough countermeasures against reputational damage are ensured. In January this year, we announced our plan to start the discharge around spring or summer. In July, the Comprehensive Report compiled by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) was issued and I myself received the report directly from Director General Grossi, who offered me explanation based on scientific grounds. The IAEA plans to conduct reviews in a continuous manner during and after the discharge, and the Japanese Government will also be thoroughly engaged.
Yesterday, I myself visited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, confirmed with my own eyes the status of efforts to ensure safety, and received a firsthand briefing on these efforts. I also instructed top executives of TEPCO to take all possible measures over the long term with a sense of responsibility and determination. Since the decision on the basic policy, the Government as a whole has provided detailed explanation and disseminated our messages both at home and abroad. I believe that the international community now has a better understanding of the efforts made by Japan and the IAEA. At the same time, we will rigorously take measures against reputational damage and to sustain livelihoods of those in the fisheries industry.
Today, I sat down with representatives of the Zengyoren and received their suggestions and requests from the perspectives of both safety and security, regarding the Government’s stance and response on reputational damage and sustaining livelihoods, and was told that there is better understanding. Taking these voices seriously and maintaining communication with the fisheries industry is of utmost importance, and the whole Government will continue to stay considerate in its response and create follow-up opportunities involving the people concerned. As I mentioned at the beginning, we will hold a meeting of relevant ministers tomorrow morning where the entire Government will confirm the status of efforts to ensure safety and measures against reputational damage, as well as upcoming initiatives. We will also decide on the specific scheduling for TEPCO’s discharge of ALPS treated water.
(On future efforts required by the Government and the outlook for establishing a follow-up system for those in the fisheries industry)
In today's meeting with representatives of Zengyoren, Mr. Sakamoto said he now had a better understanding on the safety aspect of the discharge. He also requested the Government to ensure safety from both scientific and social perspectives, work closely with those in the fisheries industry so that their children and grandchildren will be able to maintain their livelihoods in the fisheries industry without anxiety, and continue to take necessary measures at the full responsibility of the Government even if this becomes a long-term task over several decades. He also said that the fisheries industry, whose wish is to achieve the decommissioning of reactors and ensure the continuity of their livelihoods, now has a better understanding of the Government’s approach towards maintaining livelihoods in the industry and its response to ensure safety and other matters. Meanwhile, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations said that their understanding will be completed once the decommissioning of reactors is safely concluded and the continuity of livelihoods of the fisheries industry at that point is confirmed. They also stated that, at this moment, the fisheries industry, the Government and TEPCO share and advance towards the common objective of reconstruction and decommissioning, and that although the promise has not yet been fulfilled at this point, it has neither been broken. Having heard all these voices, the Government as a whole is determined to take responsibility in ensuring security, carrying out measures against reputational damage, and helping to sustain livelihoods, in order to achieve both the completion of decommissioning and the continuity of livelihoods in the fisheries industry. In this capacity the Government will continue to make necessary efforts.
As for your question on the follow-up system, Zengyoren presented their request today for such a system regarding the Government’s efforts I have explained so far. Taking the request seriously, I myself will take the initiative in setting up its framework.
(On the scheduling of the discharge of ALPS treated water)
On this point, as I mentioned earlier, we will convene a meeting tomorrow where the Government will decide on the specific scheduling after confirming the status of various efforts. As such, I should refrain from mentioning details of the scheduling at this time. At tomorrow’s meeting, we will make a final decision on the scheduling while confirming the Government’s efforts.
(On whether the period of the discharge will include September and beyond as an option)
We are currently coordinating various matters and plan to decide on the specific scheduling at tomorrow’s meeting.