Media Releases

Former Japanese Prime Minister visits Mirarr country to discuss shared nuclear concerns

23 Aug 2014

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The Mirarr traditional owners of parts of Kakadu National Park, including the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits, today welcomed former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to their traditional lands. As Prime Minister when the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis began in March 2011, Mr Kan considered the full-scale evacuation of Tokyo in response to the emergency and subsequently made the decision to shut down all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.

In October 2011 the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) confirmed the Fukushima nuclear crisis was directly fuelled by uranium from Australia. At the time Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressing her concern and sadness at the devastation that uranium from her lands was causing in Japan: “This is an industry we never supported in the past and want no part of in the future. We are all diminished by the events unfolding at Fukushima,” Ms Margarula wrote at the time.

The chairwoman of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Annie Ngalmirama, said today:

 “Our people have lived with the consequences of unwanted uranium mining for over three decades and we are very sad about the ongoing disaster in Japan. I am glad Mr Kan has come to witness the impacts at the start of the nuclear cycle. Mr Kan’s country is hurting because of uranium, here he will see that the nuclear industry is hurting Mirarr people also.”

GAC CEO Justin O’Brien said: “There is a long history between Mirarr country and Japan. Mining began at Ranger - against the wishes of the Mirarr – in large part because of agreements between the Australian and Japan governments.

“Mr Kan’s visit marks a new chapter in the longstanding partnership between our two countries. We will discuss the ways in which uranium has damaged both Mirarr country and Japan. We will look at ways we can highlight the human rights and environmental problems at the front end of the nuclear cycle and working together towards peaceful energy sources and better outcomes for all people.”

From Kakadu Mr Kan will travel to Perth to meet with community groups and parliamentarians and to visit a wave power facility.

For further information and photographs: Kirsten Blair 0412 853 641