Tokyo: Japan`s Prime Minister Naoto Kan
on Saturday visited the prefecture at the centre of a nuclear crisis
sparked by the March quake and tsunami, amid reports his
government may reduce the evacuation zone.
Kan, in his fifth visit to Fukushima prefecture since the disaster, held talks with governors from 12 villages and towns from the region, Jiji Press news agency said.
"I will take measures by listening carefully to your
opinions," Kan was quoted as saying at the start of the
meeting at a hotel in Koriyama, some 60 kilometres from the
crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Earlier Kan, wearing blue work clothes, visited a
sports training facility that is now used as a base for
workers battling the world`s worst nuclear accident since
Chernobyl in 1986.
"We are making gradual progress toward settling the
accident thanks to you," he reportedly told dozens of
assembled emergency workers.
Kan`s visit came as Japan is expected to announce
early next week that it is broadly on track in its "roadmap"
to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has met several
major goals for mid-July, including building a water
decontamination and reactor cooling system and taking steps to
avoid further explosions.
The government is now looking at resettling people in
evacuated areas outside the plant`s 20-kilometre no-go zone,
although it has declined to give a specific time frame.
The mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun today said the
situation has improved enough for the government to consider
narrowing an emergency evacuation zone, imposed between 20 and
30 kilometres from the plant, in August.
Residents within the zone have been on alert to either
stay indoors or evacuate rapidly in case of an emergency.
Children and those who need nursing care have already
been advised to leave the zone and many others have also
There is no review in sight for the 20-kilometre no-go