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Japanese PM Orders Shutdown of Nuclear Plant

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo. Kan said that his government has asked Chubu Electric Power Co. to halt all three nuclear reactors at Hamaoka nuclear power plant, as a precaution amid r

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered a nuclear plant to cease operations because of its location near a major seismic fault line.

Friday's announcement comes nearly two months after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, causing a major nuclear crisis.

Kan says he ordered the reactors at the Hamaoka plant shutdown "out of concerns for public safety." The Hamaoka plant, operated by Chubu Electric Power Company, is located about 200 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. Government scientists say there is an 87 percent chance of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake striking the region within the next 30 years.

Kan ordered the plant's operators to craft mid- and long-term quake safety measures for Hamaoka.

He says the government will take steps to ensure the shutdown of the Hamaoka plant does not cause a major shortage of electricity in the region.

Workers entered the number one reactor building at the crippled Fukushima plant on Thursday for the first time since an explosion that tore the roof off the building after the earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation has been leaking from the plant since the March 11 twin disasters damaged cooling systems at all six of the plant's reactors. Elevated radiation levels have been detected in the soil, sea water, fish and agricultural products for kilometers around the plant. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

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