Japan PM visits tsunami-struck town, enters nuke zone

By REUTERS
April 2, 2011 07:30

Naoto Kan visits tsunami-hit village, enters nuclear zone as nuclear crisis enters fourth week, no quick solution.

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Japanese PM Naoto Kan

japan pm naoto kan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

TOKYO - Japan's prime minister made his first visit to the country's tsunami-devastated region on Saturday and entered a nuclear exclusion zone to meet workers grappling to end the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan spoke with refugees living in a makeshift camp in the fishing village of Rikuzentakata, decimated by the tsunamis which struck on March 11 when Japan was rocked by a massive earthquake, leaving 28,000 dead and missing.

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"It will be kind of a long battle, but the government will be working hard together with you until the end. I want everyone to do their best, too," Kan told one survivor in a school that was now an evacuation shelter.

Despite its tsunami-seawalls, Rikuzentaka was flattened into a wasteland of mud and debris and most of its 23,000 population killed or injured, many swept away by the waves.

"A person that used to have a house near the coast told me 'Where am I supposed to build a house after this?', so I encouraged this person and said the government will provide support until the end," Kan told reporters.

Unpopular and under pressure to quit or call a snap poll before the disaster, Kan has been criticized for his management of Japan's humanitarian and nuclear crisis and his leadership remains in question.



"There are some evacuation centers that lack electricity and water. There are people who can't even go look for the dead. I want him to pay attention to them," said Kazuo Sato, a 45-year-old fisherman.

Kan later entered the 20 km (12 mile) evacuation zone on Saturday and visited J-village just inside the zone, a sports facility serving as the headquarters for emergency teams trying to cool the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi plant.


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