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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs