Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday the situation at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remained “grave and serious,” and vowed to make all-out efforts to put the crisis under control.
In a news conference two weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, Kan said, “The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to be highly grave and serious, doesn’t allow optimism. We must treat every development with the utmost care”.
Kan’s remarks came after the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in the afternoon it is highly likely that radioactive materials are leaking from part of the No.3 reactor of the plant.
But Kan suggested that the government has no immediate plan to expand a designated evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, located 230 km north of Tokyo.
The government has set the exclusion zone covering areas within a 20-km radius of the plant, while urging people within 20 to 30 km to stay indoors.
Earlier in the day, the government advised residents living between 20 and 30 km of the plant to voluntarily evacuate areas, but it was not a mandatory evacuation. Japan’s nuclear crisis was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima plant and caused radiation leaks.
The premier also said his government will continue to share the information on the nuclear-radiation crisis with the Japanese public and the international community with transparency, and enhance its monitoring of the environment around the plant.
Pointing to the radioactive contamination in agricultural and dairy products, Kan apologized to farmers and business owners near the Fukushima plant for causing serious damage, and pledged to give compensation and support.
The premier also said the government will do its utmost to help those affected by the magnitude 9.8- earthquake and tsunami, which left almost 28, 000 people dead or missing. He also urged survivors to summon the courage to keep moving forward, saying that the whole country will share the burdens.
“I also ask the Japanese public to strengthen our unity and to work to overcome the country’s worst crisis since World War II,” he said.