News / Asia

    Japan's Prime Minister Inspects Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and
    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and
    Daniel Schearf
    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has inspected the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to reassure the public over leaks of contaminated water.  Critics have lashed out at Abe for saying the situation is under control but the prime minister has stood by his words.

    Abe defended his controversial comments about radioactive water leaks while touring Japan's damaged nuclear power plant.
     
    Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in July, after months of denials, admitted hundreds of tons of contaminated water is leaking into the ocean.
     
    But Prime Minister Abe has said the situation remains “under control,” and leaking tanks of contaminated water, used to cool nuclear rods, posed no threat to public health or the Pacific.
     
    Wearing a protective white suit, face mask, and orange helmet, Mr. Abe backed up his statement Thursday while inspecting efforts to contain the outflow.  He said TEPCO officials have assured him the contaminated water is staying within the harbor near the plant.
     
    He says to deal with the disaster and the contaminated water, the government will come to the forefront, and he will firmly deal with the issue as the person in charge.
     
    The prime minister was escorted by TEPCO executives who told him that some 90 workers patrol the plant's 1,000 water holding tanks four times a day.  TEPCO says they are also planning to install gauges on the tanks to keep better tabs on water volumes and, by the end of the year, replace rubber-joints with stronger, welded ones.
     
    Abe told operators to decide soon on decommissioning two of the plant's nuclear reactors.
     
    The plant, in northeastern Fukushima prefecture, failed to withstand the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami resulting in nuclear reactor meltdowns.
     
    TEPCO was criticized for the slow release of information on the disaster and spending too much time defending itself.  
     
    Critics of the way authorities' have handled the disaster are not convinced about public safety.
     
    Speaking via Skype, Hisayo Takada, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in Japan, says frequent new findings and leaks at Fukushima demonstrate the situation is not under control.
     
    “From our own research, or continuous research on seafood or the marine water or marine environment, found that even the far away fish sold in the supermarket, in far away from Fukushima in Japan, found some cesium contamination,” she said.
     
    South Korea earlier this month, as a precaution, banned all fisheries imports from Fukushumi and seven nearby areas.  
     
    But experts investigating radiation around the nuclear plant say levels of contamination drop off sharply further from the area and pose no threat.
     
    Professor Jota Kanda, who is with the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, speaking via Skype, says despite the continuous flow of radioactive water from the harbor the level further out is very low.  
     
    “Fish radioactivity we found that is exceeding the level of Japanese guidelines up until now is largely derived from the radioactive material released into the ocean immediately after the accident not [from] the continuous radioactivity released from the harbor,” said Kanda.
     
    Japan's government in August announced it would take a more direct role in the clean-up after TEPCO's clumsy handling of the crisis.  
     
    On Sunday it shut down Japan's last functioning nuclear reactor for maintenance and standard upgrades.
     
    Japan's Kyodo News Agency says the Nuclear Regulation Authority will measure contamination of the sea floor off Fukushima over an area of about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles).
     
    Nonetheless, the extent of public worry was clearly on Mr. Abe's mind Thursday as he inspected holding tanks, water-treatment, and a chemical dam that are hoped to stop the leaks.
     
    He told workers at the Fukushima plant's command center the future of Japan was on their shoulders.

    • This photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank that workers determined was overfilled, causing a leak of toxic water, Fukushima, Japan, Oct. 3, 2013.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in red helmet), wearing a protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono in Okuma, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) is briefed about water treatment equipment during his inspection tour of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Sept. 19, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its contaminated water storage tanks (top), August 31, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)
    • Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka is seen in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage at Fukushima Daiichi, Sept. 2, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows workers wearing protective suits and masks working atop contaminated water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in this photo taken by Kyodo, August 20, 2013.
    • Members of a Fukushima prefecture panel, which monitors the safe decommissioning of the nuclear plant, inspect the construction site of the shore barrier, August 6, 2013.
    • An aerial view shows the No.3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, July 18, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)
    • A worker takes radiation readings on the window of a bus at the screening point of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, June 12, 2013.
    • Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, wearing a protective suit and a mask, inspects contaminated water tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, August 26, 2013.
    • A former resident walks past an overgrown garden during a visit to his home in the abandoned town of Namie, just outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Nov. 20, 2011. 
    • Mourners in protective suits hold flowers at a memorial ceremony for residents from the town of Okuma, inside the contaminated exclusion zone near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, July 24, 2011. 
    • Interior of No. 4 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear power plant, Nov. 8, 2011.
    • Japanese police officers wearing suits to protect them from radiation carries a victim as another group carries another body while searching for missing people in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, April 8, 2011. 
    • Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, March 21, 2011.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.