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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kan breaks silence, vows to help locals rebuild lives

Staff writer

Addressing the public for the first time in a week, Prime Minister Naoto Kan vowed Friday evening to do everything in his power to prevent the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant from escalating.

"The current situation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant is unpredictable and we are trying to prevent it from deteriorating," Kan told a news conference at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. "I believe we need to continue dealing with each problem with a strong sense of urgency."

Friday marked two weeks since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region, claiming the lives of more than 10,000 people and leaving over 17,000 unaccounted for. The disaster also sparked a nuclear crisis after tsunami wrecked four reactors at the Fukushima plant, causing people to increasingly fear the health effects from radiation leaking from the plant.

Kan has basically shunned the media during his handling of the crisis, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has instead been giving daily briefings on the nuclear emergency and Tohoku disaster response.

During the news conference, Kan stressed the need to help Tohoku residents rebuild their lives, including in the areas of housing, medical treatment, education and jobs in the fishing and farming industries.

"From now on, we need to begin preparing for a full-scale reconstruction . . . of the region, as well as people's lives," Kan said.

"We shall not burden individuals or each household with the damages of the disaster — society and Japan as a whole will share the burden equally."

Ever since the March 11 disaster, confusion and fear has spread through foreign communities in Japan as embassies temporarily closed or relocated to the Kansai region, and helped their citizens' efforts to flee Tokyo.

But Kan said: "I think every country has their own way of thinking and is setting their own standards. We have been providing information with transparency to all nations and international organizations."

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The Japan Times

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