News / Asia

Japan's Parliament Questions PM, Power Company Chief Over Nuclear Disaster

A remote-controlled robot called
A remote-controlled robot called "Packbot", which has capabilities including maneuvering through buildings, taking images, and measuring radiation levels, opens a door at Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) Co.'s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No

The prime minister of Japan and the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, appeared before parliament Monday to answer questions about their response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis they created.

Their appearance followed by one day a TEPCO announcement it could be year's end before a "cold shutdown" is achieved at the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant that might allow the tens of thousands forced to evacuate to return to their homes.  

Opinions polls released on Monday show that more than two-thirds of Japanese voters disapprove of the way the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has handled the country's nuclear disaster and want a new leader for the massive cleanup of the tsunami's destruction.  
Mr. Kan told parliament his government will conduct a thorough review of its nuclear policy, saying all "preconceived, conventional views should be put aside."  TEPCO president Masataka Shimizu apologized for his company's performance, saying the devastating tsunami was beyond expectations.

Japanese nuclear regulators said on Monday that a pair or robots sent into the damaged nuclear reactor on Japan's northeastern coast recorded evidence of a "harsh" environment that is too radioactive for workers to return.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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