(LinkAsia: February 10, 2012)
We continue our series of Fukushima-related stories this week. NHK says that more than 70 percent of Japanese municipalities that host nuclear power plants are cautious about restarting their reactors. The Japanese broadcaster surveyed 29 municipalities that host nuclear facilities, excluding those in Fukushima Prefecture.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: February 7, 2012
Fifty-one of Japan's fifty-four nuclear reactors are currently out of operation. Restarting them would require the approval of local municipalities.
Five of them, or 17 percent, said they would give the go-ahead for the reactors to resume operation. But 21 municipalities, or 72 percent, said that they would not or that they could not yet decide.
Municipalities that expressed caution said they cannot be sure whether the reactors are really safe and cited the difficulty of persuading residents while the government has yet to decide on its nuclear policy.
Asked what is needed beside stress tests to restart the reactors, 48 percent said a satisfactory investigation into the accident at Fukushima Daiichi plant and the understanding of local residents. Thirty-eight percent cited new government safety regulations.
The municipalities stressed their concern over reactor safety and demanded more government accountability.
(LinkAsia: February 3, 2012)
Now to Japan, where last spring's earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster. Seventy-eight thousand people fled the area surrounding the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. And this week, the mayor of one village called on residents to return home. But are they safe from radiation? Here's NHK with the story.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: January 31, 2012
Kawauchi village is located about 20 kilometers southwest of the plant. It was evacuated last year following the March 11th earthquake and nuclear disaster. All 3,000 residents were forced to leave. The evacuation advisory was lifted in September, but only about 200 people have returned.
Yuko Endo, Kawauchi Mayor:
I am making this declaration to ask and encourage residents to return home. I am determined to overcome hardships. Let's create a safe village together.
Endo announced on Tuesday he will return to Village Hall in March. He says elementary and junior high schools will re-open in April. The nuclear accident forced a complete evacuation of nine municipalities in Fukushima. Kawauchi will be the first to have residents return home, but many are worried. They say decontamination work is behind schedule.
My child wants to go home, but I'm worried about radioactivity. I have mixed feelings.
Another concern is jobs. There were 95 businesses in the village, but only 35 have re-opened since the quake.
Yuko Endo, Kawauchi Mayor:
The declaration is only the beginning. I'm not expecting results soon. I hope villagers come home after all radioactive substances have been removed, maybe in two or three years.
(Euronews: 0615 PST, April 14, 2011) Japanese government scientists are concerned that another massive earthquake could be on the way. Aftershocks are continuing to shake Japan's northeast coast on an almost daily basis; on Thursday morning a tremor measuring 6.1 was registered.
"On March 11 (the day of the original earthquake and tsunami) there was an extremely large magnitude 7.7 aftershock off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture and so that's the the biggest aftershock at the present time," said Keiji Doi, Japan Meteorological Agency's head of earthquake prediction.
(Euronews: 0800 PST, March 24, 2011) Work in Japan has resumed to stabilize the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, after efforts were suspended due to a plume of black smoke. In Tokyo, above normal levels of radiation have been detected in the water supply, causing a run on bottled water.
(Euronews: 0630 PST, March 22, 2011) White smoke and steam can be seen rising from reactor number 2 at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, suggesting the battle to avert a meltdown and stop the spread of radiation is not yet won.
(Euronews: 0230 PST, March 22, 2011) Thousands of young people have lined up to answer a call to arms by former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbabgo. Gbabgo contests the result of November 28 presidential elections that declared his rival Alassane Ouattara as the winner. Ouattara is recognised by the international community as the rightful president of Ivory Coast and who is backed by rebel forces. But Gbagbo's retains a tight grip on the military and has refused to go quietly, rejecting pleas for him to step down.
(Al Jazeera English: 1056 PST, March 18, 2011) The Japanese fire department has been called in to help control the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas reports from Osaka.
(Associated Press: 0448 PST, March 18, 2011) Japan's nuclear safety agency raised the severity rating of the country's nuclear crisis from level four to level five on the seven-level international scale, putting it on par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.
(Al Jazeera English: 0800 PST, March 18, 2011) As Japan's nuclear safety commission upgrades the situation at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima plant to a level five on the seven-level International Nuclear Events Scale, the country's prime minister says circumstances remain grave.
Justin Dargin, nuclear analyst and research fellow at the Dubai initiative, tells Al Jazeera of the wider implications of Japan's ongoing emergency.
(Euronews: 0720 PST, March 17, 2011) Army helicopters have once more been dumping sea water on the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan. They are concentrating on Reactor Number 3, trying desperately to bring down the temperature.
Japanese television broadcast some pictures shot from 35 kilometers away. The helicopters are taking off from a military base in Sendai. For days, people here and at the site itself have been working tirelessly to avert an environmental catastrophe.
(Euronews: 0702 PST, March 17, 2011) Foreigners are packing their bags and heading out of Japan as many distrust government announcements about the true state of the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Those gathering at Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports say the earthquakes don't worry them, but nuclear fall out does: "They want to tell people it is safe. I personally feel that when stuff gets in the air, and the wind blows it around, I don't know which side of the exclusion zone would be safe," said one man on his way back to South Africa.