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Speech by Mr. Chiaki Takahashi, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at Kyiv Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy

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His Excellency President Yanukovych, His Excellency Prime Minister Azarov,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I consider it particularly significant to hold a nuclear summit here in Kyiv in this year marking the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and respect to those who have contributed to arranging this important event, especially to the Government of Ukraine.

Immediately after the occurrence of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, both Japanese government and private sector have financially supported the affected areas and the people such as healthcare. Japan has contributed an amount of approximately 73 million Euros to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and the Nuclear Safety Account.

Japan is now mobilizing all available resources to tackle the aftermath of the earthquake of magnitude 9.0 which struck eastern Japan, causing tsunamis and the nuclear accident. I consider it the most important to explain to the international community the current state of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station and the response taken by Japan to the accident with maximum transparency, I have decided to attend the summit.

Over 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations have expressed their willingness to provide Japan with assistance in the wake of the enormously powerful earthquake, and tsunamis, which were the worst natural disaster we have ever faced since the end of the Second World War, as well as a nuclear accident. Such assistance and the circle of solidarity from the world community strongly encourage Japanese people to overcome this unprecedented hardship and to advance forward. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the solidarity shown from all over the world.

The accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station reminded us of the importance of the nuclear safety once again. Japan deeply regrets that the accident which is now assessed as the most serious according to the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) happened and we take it seriously. Currently, the Japanese government is making all-out efforts to resolve the problems with a view to bringing the situation under stable control at the earliest possible date.

Taking this opportunity, please allow me to explain about the causes of the Fukushima accident. After the enormous earthquake hit, units 1, 2 and 3 of the nuclear power station automatically suspended their operations. However, blackout triggered by the earthquake and ensuing tsunamis crashed the emergency diesel electric generators. As a consequence, all the functions to cool down reactors and spent-fuels were lost.

It then became the most urgent task for us to find a way to cool down reactors and spent-fuels. While injecting water using various methods, we are making every effort to recover electric power supply and cooling systems. We are also combating to stop the leakage of radioactive contaminated water into the sea and to dispose of the stagnant water in reactor facilities.

As I mentioned earlier, we are mobilizing all available resources to settle the situation as early as possible, as our top priority. We give importance to the safety and health of all citizens, in particular those residents in the vicinity of the nuclear power station, while striving to prevent further diffusion of radioactive substances.

As I mentioned in the beginning, on April 12, Japan made assessment and announced that the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station corresponded to Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). First of all, however, I would like to emphasize that this new assessment does not mean that the situation in Fukushima is aggravating. The new assessment is a result of our latest calculation, based on newly obtained data of the total amount of radioactive substances released, in accordance with the IAEA criteria.

Secondly, most of the radioactive substances were released in the first few days and the airborne radiation dose has been gradually declining. For example, in Tokyo, its radiation dose has never reached to the level which would affect the human health. It has been declining steadily. The current data shows that it has returned to an approximately normal level. We will continue to radioactive monitoring.

Next, compared with the Chernobyl accident, the reasons and the aspects of the accident at the Fukushima are different.

First, while the reactor itself exploded at Chernobyl, the reactors at Fukushima automatically shut down and there is no large-scale fire at the site. The release of radioactive substances is limited. The IAEA also points out that the accidents are different in this regard.

Secondly, the total amount of radioactive substances released from the Fukushima plant at present is estimated to be far less than that of the Chernobyl .

Thirdly, there is no casualty by radioactive damage and is no health problem caused by radiation among those residents in the vicinity of the nuclear power station.

Although the two accidents are assessed as the same level 7, IAEA explains that the two differs substantially, for the Fukushima reactors suspended their operations after the earthquake, whereas in Chernobyl the fire broke out and nuclear materials were diffused while the reactors were in operation. International institutions such as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have made objective assessments that the excessive measures such as general travel restriction to Japan are not needed. I wish to request all countries to trust these assessments and respond calmly based on the scientific facts.

Regarding the accident, Japan will continue to exert efforts to provide the latest information in a timely manner through various channels, such as notification to IAEA, briefings to diplomatic corps in Tokyo, dissemination of information through the websites of the Japanese embassies abroad as well as through our websites. We will continue to promptly provide accurate information to the international community with maximum transparency.

Upon instruction of Prime Minister Naoto Kan on 12th April, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released a "Roadmap towards Restoration from the Accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station" on the afternoon of 17th April 2011. In the roadmap, the TEPCO sets two steps as targets. Step one is "Radiation dose is in steady decline" which will be achieved in around 3 months. Step 2 is "Release of radioactive materials is under control and radiation dose is being significantly held down" which will be achieved in around 3 to 6 months after STEP 1 is completed. With this roadmap as a start, the Government of Japan will move from the "emergency response phase" to the "planned and stabilization action phase," which aims at settling the situation in a planned manner. Our immediate priority at this time is to bring the situation under control at the earliest possible date. As a next step, we will thoroughly examine this accident and share the knowledge and experience gained from the accident with international community with maximum transparency. With this in mind, we recognize that the IAEA Ministerial Conference to be held from June 20 to 24 in Vienna will be a very crucial occasion. Building upon our knowledge and experience learned from the accident, Japan is determined to make utmost contribution to the international efforts toward enhanced nuclear safety closely cooperating with each country through consultations.

Thank you for your kind attention.