TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan said Thursday it will boost its monitoring of radiation contamination near a crippled nuclear plant in F**ushima Prefecture and step up measures to evacuate people if necessary, as suggested by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"We have no plans to immediately evacuate people, but naturally, high radiation levels in soil, if continued over a long period of time...will likely affect human health, so we need to step up our monitoring, and if need be take steps to deal with it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
Edano was referring to findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency that radiation measured at the village of Iitate, about 40 kilometers from the F**ushima Daiichi plant, exceeded a criterion for evacuation.
Denis Flory, IAEA deputy director general and head of the agency's nuclear safety and security department, said, "We have advised our counterparts to carefully assess the situation." Flory added that the Japanese authorities "have indicated that it is already under assessment."
Edano noted that the government, acting on the IAEA results, will have to conduct a "more detailed monitoring" of radiation levels such as those in the air, and analyze how long the impact may last.
Following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the F**ushima plant on March 11, causing four of its six reactors to lose their cooling functions and leading to radiation leaks, the government ordered people within a radius of 20 kilometers of the plant to evacuate and those within 30 km to stay indoors.
The government later recommended people in the 20-30 km range to "leave voluntarily," but said its advice was prompted by concerns over access to daily necessities rather than residents' safety.
With the government and plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying that it will take time for the nuclear crisis to be brought under control, Edano said Japan and the IAEA agreed they would not rule out the possibility of the situation worsening.
News Source: Daily Mainichi
Emperor and Empress visit shelter in Tokyo, talk with evacuees
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko talk to
evacuees at the Tokyo Budoh-kan gymnastic
hall in Tokyo's Adachi Ward on March 30. (Pool photo)
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami who are staying at a shelter in Tokyo on March 30.
It is the first time the Imperial couple has visited an evacuation shelter for those who have lost their homes in the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The Emperor and the Empress talked to evacuees for about 40 minutes at the shelter, the Tokyo Budoh-kan hall in Tokyo's Adachi Ward.
According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a total of 289 people are currently taking shelter at the facility.
"Are the children alright? I'm sure they will be delighted to see each other when school restarts (in April)," Emperor Akihito said to Kenji Ukido, 34, a teacher at a school for disabled children in F**ushima Prefecture and one of the evacuees at the shelter.
When Ukido replied that all of the school's students survived the disaster, the Emperor showed a relieved expression on his face and said, "I'm glad to hear that."
According to sources close to the Imperial Household Agency, the Imperial couple has a strong desire to visit areas affected by the disaster to encourage local residents and reward those working to restore the region, but is refraining from doing so in order not to interfere with ongoing rescue operations or the situation at the crippled nuclear power plant in F**ushima.
News Source: Daily Mainichi