Japan abiding by IAEA: Amano

by Masami Ito

Director General Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Association tried to give his home country a break Friday by acknowledging the Fukushima power plant crisis is serious and Japan is acting in accordance with IAEA standards.

Japan, which along with Tokyo Electric Power Co. is being widely criticized at home and abroad as slow and opaque in handling the meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture, has ordered everyone within 20 km of the plant to evacuate, and those between 20 and 30 km to stay indoors.

But in the past few days, the United States and Britain have caused a media stir by issuing a wider evacuation order of 80 km, raising the possibility of conflicting assessments of the disaster.

At a news conference hosted by the Japan National Press Club in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, Amano explained that the IAEA’s standards are nonbinding, which means evacuation zones may differ from country to country.

“The Japanese government’s policy . . . is based on IAEA standards, but they are not binding and we would like (governments) to use them as reference,” Amano said.

Amano said the key now is to neutralize the reactors, not to discuss the incident’s level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. “The accident is not a static event, it is rather a dynamic event.”