Abe demands end to Fukushima leaks
By Antoine Bouthier ,AFPFUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR PLANT -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Fukushima's operator to fix radioactive water leaks as he toured the crippled nuclear plant Thursday, less than two weeks after assuring the world the situation was under control.
September 20, 2013, 12:19 am TWN
Abe also said he stood by assertions he made at a meeting of Olympic chiefs that the effect of contaminated water was contained.
Those reassurances, given at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, were seen as key to Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
Thursday's visit came as information emerged that just months after the March 2011 disaster, authorities allowed operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to shelve costly plans to deal with groundwater over fears it would push the massive utility into bankruptcy.
Hundreds of tons of groundwater are becoming contaminated daily as they mix with highly polluted water used to cool the broken reactors. The water then flows out to sea.
Abe wore a full face mask and an orange helmet for the tour, along with a white Tyvek protective suit that had the words “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe” emblazoned on the back in black. He was escorted around the site by TEPCO executives, including President Naomi Hirose.
The visit is part of a campaign aimed at reassuring the world about the state of the plant, more than two-and-a-half years after it was battered by a huge tsunami.
Speaking to Olympic chiefs just ahead of a decision to award the games to Tokyo, Abe said of the plant: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”
But some critics and experts say Abe's gloss on the disaster is bordering on the dishonest — a senior TEPCO executive flatly contradicted the PM earlier this month.