Members of the Hong Kong, Japanese and third country press,
I am OKADA Kenichi, Consul-General of Japan in Hong Kong. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend today’s briefing.
In April 2021, the Japanese Government announced its basic policy on the handling of ALPS treated water and has since held three briefings for the Hong Kong press to explain the safety of ALPS treated water, based on scientific evidence. This is the fourth briefing.
In addition, we have provided the Hong Kong Government with information and explanations on the safety of Japanese food products many times, called for the early removal of existing import restrictions on Japanese food products, based on scientific evidence, and explained in detail the Japanese Government's efforts to achieve the safe discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who is the only authority to set and apply international safety standards in the nuclear field, concluded in its Comprehensive Report, published in July this year, that the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is consistent with relevant international safety standards and will have a negligible impact on humans and the environment. We have also explained this factor to the Hong Kong Government and the public.
Nevertheless, the Japanese Government extremely regrets that the Hong Kong Government has banned the import of aquatic products from 10 prefectures since 24th August. Of the approximately 200 countries around the world, only a few, apart from China, Hong Kong and Macao, such as Russia and North Korea, criticise that the discharge of ALPS treated water is ‘dangerous’. Meanwhile, 31 countries, including 27 European Union (EU) countries, removed existing import restrictions this summer when ALPS treated water was discharged into the sea. At the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting held last weekend (28th and 29th October), Japan reiterated the need for calm responses based on scientific evidence regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, and other countries expressed their understanding and support for Japan’s position. Moreover, the G7 Trade Ministers’ Statement also reaffirmed the importance of import restrictions on food products being science-based and only applied in accordance with WTO and other international rules. It strongly called for the immediate repeal of any such measures that unnecessarily restrict trade, including the newly introduced import restrictions on Japanese food products.
We will continue to provide the Hong Kong Government with the necessary information on ALPS treated water and strongly urge the early removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products, based on scientific evidence.
We have heard from some Hong Kong citizens, who enjoy Japanese food very much, that they feel worried about consuming Japanese food as a result of the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea. In order to ensure that Hong Kong citizens can continue to enjoy Japanese food with peace of mind, we have decided to take this opportunity today to provide highly transparent, scientifically based and accurate information on the latest situation regarding the ALPS treated water, in particular the monitoring regime, figures after the discharge into the ocean and the involvement of the IAEA.
Today, we are pleased to welcome Mr TAKABATAKE Masaaki, Special Supervisor for Decommissioning and Water Treatment, , Fukushima Reconstruction Promotion Group, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), to Hong Kong, from Tokyo, and officials from the relevant ministries and agencies of Japan will provide an online update on the latest status of ALPS treated water and monitoring. Professor Gerry THOMAS, of Imperial College London, and Professor HIBIKI Takashi, Chair Professor at the City University of Hong Kong, will also comment on the Japanese Government's efforts.
Before we go into these explanations, I would first like to give you a brief overview on the status of the monitoring.
In discharging ALPS treated water to the sea, the Japanese Government has ensured a multi-layered monitoring system with the involvement of the IAEA. Monitoring is carried out by the Japanese Government, the Fukushima Prefecture and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). With the participation of third country analytical institutions, the IAEA objectively confirms the analytical capability of the Japanese Government and TEPCO for monitoring as well as the reliability of the data. The particulars are as follows:
First, with regard to the monitoring of the ALPS treated water in the tanks prior to dilution, measurements have already been carried out three times because on 2nd November, the third batch of discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is scheduled. TEPCO, a third-party institution commissioned by TEPCO and another third-party institution based on Basic Policy by the Japanese Government carried out the measurement. Specifically, in addition to the 29 radionuclides and tritium defined by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) based on IAEA review, 39 radionuclides were measured voluntarily, with a total of 69 radionuclides analysed, and all radionuclides except for tritium were confirmed to meet the discharge criteria. The results of all three measurements have been made public and our Consulate has also issued press releases on the first and second batch.
In addition, the IAEA has analysed the pre-diluted ALPS treated water in the tanks for the first second and third batches of discharge and there were no surprises. Although the result of the third batch has not yet been announced, IAEA so far announced the result of analysis of the first and second batch that the results for tritium activity concentration from TEPCO’s analysis and from the IAEA’s analysis agree with a high level of confidence and that the IAEA did not detect any other radionuclides in significant quantities. The result of the analysis of the third batch of discharge by the IAEA will be open to the public soon.
Second, for the last two discharges, TEPCO has measured the tritium concentration in the diluted treated water prior to discharge and confirmed that it has been sufficiently diluted. The IAEA has also confirmed that the tritium concentration is far below 1500 Bq/L and the results have been published. Similarly, for the third batch of discharge, TEPCO will collect diluted ALPS treated water on 31st October and publish the results of the analysis as soon as they are finalised.
Third, with regard to sea area monitoring after the discharge, the Japanese Government, the Fukushima Prefecture and TEPCO have measured seawater and fisheries products in the sea area near and around the discharge point and confirmed that the discharge was carried out as planned and that there are no safety issues.
Between 16th-23rd October, experts from the IAEA and third country analytical institutions came to Japan and conducted sampling of seawater and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture. Chinese analytical institution also participated in this.
From 24th-27th October, an IAEA task force, which comprised of experts from 11 countries, including China, visited Japan and conducted its sixth review, confirming between the IAEA, the Japanese Government and TEPCO that the discharges were being safely carried out as planned. In addition, an IAEA permanent office has been set up at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, with IAEA staff stationed there. In addition, the IAEA also publishes data showing the status of the discharges in real time.
IAEA Director General Grossi has stated that the IAEA will remain in Fukushima until the last drop of ALPS treated water has been safely discharged.
The IAEA is committed to long-term involvement during and after the discharge of ALPS treated water and the Japanese Government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the IAEA on 18th September.
We believe that this multi-layered system, with Japanese Government-led monitoring of the discharge of ALPS treated water and confirmation by the IAEA, ensures sufficient objectivity and transparency with regard to the safety of Japanese fisheries products.
We would like to request for the help of the media, who hold a great deal of influence throughout all sectors of Hong Kong, in eliminating the misunderstandings and concerns of some Hong Kong friends. Through today's briefing, we hope to further deepen Hong Kong people's understanding on the safety of ALPS treated water, so that Hong Kong people can continue to enjoy Japanese restaurants and Japanese food with peace of mind, and that the discharge of ALPS treated water will not seriously affect the good relationship between Japan and Hong Kong.
We will answer your questions with a high degree of transparency, scientific evidence and good faith.
We intend to continue to improve our explanations and materials for the people of Hong Kong. Please bear with us for the remainder of the presentation.