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Japan Expands Evacuation Zone Around Nuclear Plant

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (handout photo)
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (handout photo)
Martyn Williams

An evacuation advisory for areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was widened on Friday because of concerns about long-term radiation exposure. The move comes a day after Japan began legally enforcing a 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the power station.

The new advisory covers several towns northeast of the mandatory exclusion zone. Residents have been asked to leave the area within the next month.

Government officials say the danger is the gradual build-up of radiation that has been happening since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Residents could exceed the annual safe dose if they stay in the area.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan spoke about the advisory at a news conference.

Kan said the evacuation advisory is being done for the residents' safety. He warns that several additional towns might be asked to evacuate in the future.

The areas in question are largely agricultural and some people already have left. Around 7,000 are estimated to remain.

Kan, who visited evacuaee shelters in Fukushima on Thursday, also outlined some recovery goals.

He says government plans to build 30,000 temporary homes by the end of May. They will go some way toward housing the estimated 135,000 people still homeless because of the earthquake and tsunami. An additional 70,000 homes will follow.

Japan expects to issue bonds to help pay for the disaster, which left alsmot 28,000 people dead or missing. On Friday the country's cabinet approved an initial supplementary budget of $49 billion.

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