Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged Friday that his government will win a long battle in order to put the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control.
“We are ready to fight a long battle, and determined to win it,” Kan told a news conference three weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan.
“We promise to reestablish a safe system that could respond to any situation,” the premier said.
The twin natural disasters knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima plant, located 230 km north of Tokyo, resulting in the world’s worst radiation crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
Kan also said the government will scrap some planned programs under the budget for fiscal 2011 beginning Friday to finance necessary reconstruction work in the disaster-hit area, adding that it will submit a draft supplementary budget to the parliament by the end of this month.
Direct damage from the magnitude 9.0-quake and ensuing tsunami, which left some 28,000 people dead or missing, is estimated at as high as JPY 25 trillion (USD 309 billion), the Japanese government said last week, making it the world’s most costly natural disaster on record.
The estimate does not include economic losses triggered by the nuclear problems at the Fukushima plant and rolling blackouts in Tokyo metropolitan area.