Tokyo/Fukushima: As hectic efforts were on
to contain Japan`s worst atomic crisis, police in protective
gear today for the first time launched a search for tsunami
victims in a 10-km zone around a radiation-leaking nuclear
plant while Premier Naoto Kan vowed to rebuild the nation amid
growing opposition calls for him to quit.
In their first visit to the disaster-hit northeast,
Japan`s Emperor Akhito and Empress Michiko visited Asahi City
in Chiba Prefecture, just outside Tokyo, where they met
residents of districts struck by the March 11 magnitude-9
quake and tsunami that left nearly 30,000 people dead or
After being briefed by Chiba Governor Kensaku Morita on
the disaster that killed 13 people in the city and destroyed
hundreds of houses, the couple visited a community centre in
Unakami district, where 80 residents of Asahi had taken
shelter, national broadcaster NHK reported.
They also visited an emergency centre in the area, where
about 70 residents were staying. The couple are scheduled to
visit Kitaibaraki City in Ibaraki prefecture on Friday next
week, Sendai in Miyagi on April 27, Iwate prefecture on May 2
and Fukushima on May 11.
Prime Minister Kan, who is facing mounting calls from the
opposition to step down over his handling of the aftermath of
the twin disaster, expressed his commitment to rejuvenate
Japan by turning the devastated northeastern coastal region
into one of the world`s most desirable places to live.
"I`d like you to present a plan that will open up a great
opportunity to renew Japan and create a better society for the
Japanese people," Kan said at the first meeting of a panel
tasked with developing a grand design for reconstruction,
Kyodo news agency reported.
Kan said Japan would overcome "the worst crisis in its
65-year postwar history" by putting together its wisdom and
power, and heeding the voices of people suffering from the
Meanwhile, another strong earthquake with a magnitude of
6.1 jolted northeastern Japan early today.
The undersea quake struck at 5.57 am local time at a
depth of just 11.2 km, around 190 km east of Morioka on Honshu
island, according to the US Geological Survey.
However, the workers at the Fukushima plant continued the
difficult task of removing highly radioactive water from the
basements of Nos.1 to 3 reactor turbine buildings.
The level of polluted water in the plant`s underground
trench was found to be edging up again this morning after some
660 tonnes were pumped out, Kyodo news agency reported.
The removal of some 60,000 tonnes of contaminated water
is vital to speed up the work to restore key cooling functions
of the reactors lost in the March 11 twin disaster.