Japan’s new prime minister Shinzo Abe has visited the stricken nuclear site at Fukushima, just three days after he was sworn in.
Despite strong reservations from the industry’s new regulator, the government hopes to stick to a three-year deadline to decide whether to restart all nuclear reactors after safety checks.
The prime minister saw for himself the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
The visit comes a year after the nuclear plant was stabilised. Four of the six reactors were seriously damaged, emitting vast quantities of radioactive substances.
“Your courage is the hope and future for Japan,” Shinzo Abe told staff. “But the challenge continues. This is the first time in history that humanity has been challenged with a clean-up operation of this scale.”
Despite anti-nuclear protests, the prime minister believes Japan needs atomic energy for economic reasons.
The previous government’s intention to go nuclear-free is considered redundant.
For now all but two of the country’s 50 reactors remain switched off.