UN chief heads to Japan as nuclear crisis simmers

Last Updated: Sunday, August 7, 2011 - 09:57

Tokyo: UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrives in Japan
on Sunday, where he plans to visit the Fukushima nuclear disaster
zone, as the crippled atomic power plant simmers and a food
safety scare deepens.

The secretary-general will visit hard-hit Fukushima
prefecture this evening as one of the most senior foreign
leaders to go to the area after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and
tsunami on March 11 triggered the catastrophe.

Tomorrow, Ban will meet some of the 85,000 people who have
evacuated to shelters from areas around the plant after what
has become the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years
ago.

"I wanted to come to Japan as soon as possible after the
tragedy of 11 March to express the solidarity and deep
sympathy that the whole world feels for the people of your
great country," Ban told Japanese journalists last week.

Ban has convened a nuclear safety summit for the UN
General Assembly in New York in September and he is expected
to reinforce his calls for tougher international standards
while in Japan.

Ban plans to visit Haragama beach at Soma, 25 miles (40
km) north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant that continues to
gush radiation. A 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the
battered facility prevents going much nearer.

His visit has made Japanese officials nervous.

Lethal hotspots were detected inside the crippled nuclear
plant last week with radiation so high that it would kill a
person within weeks if they were exposed to it for even one
hour.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, August 7, 2011 - 09:57

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