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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs