Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has visited evacuees from the area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, more than a month after the tsunami- wrecked facility started to leak radiation.
Kan, low in the polls before the disasters hit, is under fire from all sides for his handling of the crisis. At an evacuation centre he once again faced criticism from a frustrated evacuee:
“Step forward prime minister and take the lead, exercise more leadership and end this situation as soon as possible, please! I ask you from the bottom of my heart,” said one evacuee.
Kan’s government has announced a new law making it illegal to enter a 20-kilometre zone around the stricken plant. Most fled the area following the March 11 earthquake/tsunami but it is believed some 60 families are still living there.
The 80,000 residents will be allowed back in briefly to pick up belongings. Anyone else will be liable to a fine.
The government looks set to offer financial help to the Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the crippled power plant. It plans to set up a fund to buy preferred shares in the company, which will help TEPCO pay compensation to those hit by the crisis.
TEPCO has said it may take the rest of the year or longer to bring the plant under control.