News / Asia

Japan PM Says Nuclear Plant Stabilizing Despite Higher Crisis Rating

The heavily damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
The heavily damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

United Nations nuclear experts said Tuesday that Japan's decision to elevate its nuclear power accident to the highest level does not mean conditions have worsened or that Japanese authorities had earlier downplayed the seriousness of the disaster.

Japan Tuesday designated the accident as a level seven - the highest stage on the nuclear incident scale formulated by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. That puts the crisis on the same level as the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, in Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the situation is stabilizing at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was crippled after a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Denis Flory, the IAEA's head of nuclear safety and security, says Japanese data show that the Fukushima plant has released about 10 percent of the radioactive material that the Chernobyl plant did.

He also said Tuesday that tests of vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, and milk produced in eight prefectures around Fukushima found either no radioactive material or found small levels that are considered to be safe.

Japan raised the crisis from a five to a seven on the international scale, indicating a major accident with widespread health and environmental effects.  Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says that, unlike the Chernobyl calamity, there has so far been no "direct health hazard" from the Fukushima accident. The Chernobyl disaster is believed to have killed about two dozen people within days and thousands more over the ensuing years.

Safety agency officials also noted that, in Chernobyl, radiation spread over a wide area when a reactor exploded. So far at Fukushima, most of the radiation has been contained within large concrete chambers, though those chambers may be leaking.

Despite those assurances, China on Tuesday again voiced concern over Japan's move to discharge nuclear wastewater from Fukushima's crippled reactors into the Pacific.  China's official Xinhua news agency says Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao talked Tuesday by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Kan, and demanded that the Japanese government "pay high attention" to the impact that such discharges have on the marine environment.  

The report said Mr. Wen also urged the Japanese leader to adhere to related international law, and to "promptly and accurately" inform China of new developments.

Prime Minister Kan used his news conference to stress that the levels of radiation leaking from the plant are now decreasing and that the situation is moving "one step at a time" toward stability.

He also said it is time for the country to turn to the task of reconstruction and said the Japanese people must regain the determination shown in rebuilding the country after World War II. He said Japan should not just restore things as they were, but use the twin disasters to build a better future.

Mr. Kan additionally urged citizens to abandon the consumer restraint shown out of respect for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, which has left about 28,000 people dead or missing. He said they should instead help survivors by buying goods from the areas most affected by the disasters.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs