News / Asia

Japan's Kan Faces Calls to Quit Over Handling of Disasters

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan attends a news conference in Tokyo, April 12, 2011
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan attends a news conference in Tokyo, April 12, 2011

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is facing new calls for his resignation from senior opposition and ruling party lawmakers angered by his response to the country's earthquake and tsunami-triggered nuclear crisis.

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki said Thursday it was time for Kan to decide whether to resign because of what Tanigaki called the prime minister's poor handling of relief operations. He said continuing with Japan's current leadership would be "extremely unfortunate" for the Japanese people.

Kan's opponents initially refrained from criticizing him after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami hit the Pacific coast of Japan's Honshu island and crippled a nuclear plant on March 11. Since then, he has appealed for cross-party cooperation to help the country recover from its worst post-war disaster.

Intensified calls

Kan also faced a call for his departure Thursday from inside his ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Upper house speaker Takeo Nishioka said the prime minister must quit for failing to properly handle the triple disaster's aftermath. A day earlier, a DPJ rival of the prime minister, Ichiro Ozawa, criticized his crisis management.

Kan focused Thursday on reconstruction, chairing the first meeting of an expert panel appointed to draft an economic revival plan for the disaster zone. Panel leader Makoto Iokibe said reconstruction plans must have the support of the whole nation. He also suggested creating a special tax to pay for the efforts. The 15-member body is due to present its first proposals in June.

Japan's police agency said its latest casualty figures show the quake and tsunami killed about 13,500 people and left 14,700 others missing. Japanese police searching for the missing moved to within 10 kilometers of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant for the first time Thursday, wearing white, protective suits to shield them from radiation that has leaked from the facility since the disaster.

Climbing death toll

Officials say the team of 300 officers found 10 bodies in the debris of a tsunami-devastated town near the plant. Japanese media say about 1,000 bodies may be in the area.

Searchers had stayed out of the 10-kilometer zone because of high radiation levels, but authorities ordered them to recover bodies before they deteriorate to the point where they become a health hazard and impossible to identify.

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko also made their first visit to the worst-hit areas Thursday, comforting survivors at two emergency shelters in the city of Asahi in Chiba Prefecture. The royal couple also plan to visit the disaster-affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima in the coming weeks.

At least 140,000 people are still living in shelters in the region after losing their homes to the earthquake and tsunami or evacuating a government-declared 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant due to high radiation.

Emergency crews at the plant have been trying to pump out water that became contaminated after being doused on its reactors to keep them from overheating. Pumping out the radioactive water could help the crews to resume repair work aimed at restoring the reactors' original cooling systems to stop them from spewing radiation.

Continuing aftershocks

The Tokyo Electric Power Company that operates the plant said Thursday it is moving some equipment to higher ground after a series of strong aftershocks raised the risk of a new tsunami.

The latest strong aftershock came at about 6 a.m. local time Thursday, with a magnitude of 6.1. It was the fourth temblor since Monday with a magnitude of 6 or greater. Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled Japan's northeastern coast since last month's massive earthquake.

In a sign of the economic cost of the disasters, the Japanese government said the number of foreign visitors to the country plunged 50 percent in March from a year earlier, to 352,800 people.

The Japan National Tourism Board attributed the drop to media reports about the catastrophe and warnings by some foreign governments to their nationals to avoid travel to Japan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More