Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday appealed to the public to unite in overcoming “Japan’s worst crisis in the postwar history of 65 years.”
In his televised message to the public, Kan said, “This is the most severe crisis since the end of World War II. Whether we Japanese can overcome this crisis depends on each of us, and I believe we will be able to get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together”.
More than 1,350 people are confirmed dead from the devastating earthquake and tsunami as of Sunday evening, including five people in Tokyo. In the hardest-hit Miyagi Prefecture alone, the death toll is almost certain to exceed 10,000, local police chief said Sunday.
In addition, nearly 10,000 people in the coastal town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi, about 360 km north of Tokyo, have not been in contact by anyone, according to the prefectural government.
Kan also said he has approved for Tokyo Electric Power Co. to implement scheduled power cuts from Monday to cope with severe electricity shortages in the wake of Friday’s M 9.0 earthquake that country’s hit north and eastern regions and shut down nuclear plants.
To avoid a massive blackout, power will be in cut in a rotating order for a fixed time in Tokyo Electric Power’s service area centering on Tokyo.
The announcement came as the government battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 240 km north of Tokyo after they lost cooling functions following massive quake. The government is struggling to control the overheating reactors.
On Saturday, an explosion at the plant blew away the roof and the upper walls of the building housing one of its reactors. Although the explosion did not damage the reactor’s container and that only a small amount of radiation was released, the incident prompted authorities to expand the evacuation area to a 20-km radius from 10 km for residents living nearby the Fukushima plant.
Kan said a total of about 12,000 people have been rescued so far.
Earlier in the day, the premier instructed the Defense Minister to increase double the number of Self-Defense Force personnel sent to quake-hit areas to 100,000. About 310,000 people across regions spend Sunday night at emergency shelters.
Electric power supply is suspended to some 2.5 million households in quake-hit areas, while at least 1.4 million households in the region are without water as of Sunday night.