Japanese PM makes first trip to Fukushima plant

Last Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 16:31

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Thursday made a trip to Fukushima Prefecture, home to a
radiation-leaking nuclear power plant, for the first time
since he took office last week.

With no end to the six-month-old crisis yet in sight,
Noda visited the Fukushima Daiichi power station crippled by
the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami to inspect
reactor buildings as well as to encourage workers at the site.

"Everyone in the country and the world is hoping for an
end to the accident," Noda said in front of about 200 workers
at the plant.

"You`re the key to whether we can overcome" the crisis,
he said, adding, "I`ll work hard, too, in concert with you."

On the first leg of his one-day trip, Noda also visited
the J-Village athletic training facility which has been used
as a base camp for efforts to contain the crisis at the power
plant, Japan`s worst ever nuclear accident.

"You`ve been highly praised by the public," Noda said to
members of the Self-Defense Forces who are struggling to deal
with the nuclear emergency and to decontaminate radioactive
materials near the station.

"I`m really proud of you as chief of the Self-Defense
Forces," Noda said at the facility, wearing blue protective
gear.

Later in the day, the new prime minister is set to
exchange views with Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on the
government`s plan to build a temporary storage facility in the
prefecture for radioactive waste.

When Noda`s predecessor, Naoto Kan, last month suddenly
unveiled to Sato the idea of setting up such a facility during
their talks in Fukushima City, the governor expressed
displeasure, saying, "It`s an abrupt proposal. We are very
much baffled."

Noda, who formally became the country`s premier last
Friday, is also hoping to meet with residents affected by the
accident. Radiation continues to spew from the plant, and many
nearby residents remain unable to return to their homes.

Noda had repeatedly expressed his desire to visit
Fukushima and has vowed to speed up reconstruction of areas
ravaged by the March disaster and nuclear crisis.

The Prime Minister will visit the typhoon-hit prefectures
of Wakayama, Nara and Mie in western Japan tomorrow, while he
will travel to Miyagi and Iwate prefectures on Saturday, which
were struck hard by the quake-tsunami disaster in March,
government officials said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 16:31

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