News / Asia

Japan's PM Says Nuclear Situation 'Very Grave'

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima plant is "very grave."

Kan said on Friday the police, fire department and military were "putting their lives on the line" to cool the highly radioactive fuel rods at the complex.

Officials on Friday raised the severity rating of its nuclear disaster from 4 to 5 on a 7-point international nuclear event scale.

Firefighters were dousing water on damaged reactor buildings with powerful hoses.  But they have to limit their time inside the complex due to the high radiation levels.

Japanese engineers also are extending an emergency power cable to the nuclear reactor complex.  A steady supply of power could enable workers at the Fukushima plant to get water pumps working again.

Kan tried to reassure his nation, saying Friday that he expected that in the "not so distant future" the overall situation will be controlled.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, says Japan is racing against time to cool the overheating reactors.  Amano arrived in Japan Friday to meet with top Japanese officials and learn how the IAEA can help with the crisis.

The increase in the nuclear accident's severity rating comes shortly after the chief secretary of Japan's cabinet, Yukio Edano, tried to calm fears about the radiation.  He said elevated radiation levels detected kilometers away from the plant were not a health risk.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Japanese authorities have told them they have successfully laid a cable line to reactor number two at the nuclear plant.  However, it is not clear how close workers are to actually restoring power.

The VOA correspondent in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture says government officials are not expecting power to be re-connected to reactors number two and three until Sunday.

The cooling problem is particularly critical at the number three nuclear reactor, where the risk of an increased level of radioactive leaks is considered especially high.

The risk of radiation poisoning has already forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people who lived within 20 kilometers of the reactor site.  Many are in makeshift shelters, with inadequate food, water and other supplies, in frigid winter weather.

For anyone still living inside a wider radius from the plant - 30 kilometers - Japanese authorities said everyone should remain indoors and take measures to minimize the amount of outside air entering their living quarters.

Three of the Fukushima plant's six reactors were operating when the quake struck, while three others were shut down for maintenance. Explosions have rocked the three units that had been in operation, causing varying degrees of damage.

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

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs