Kan to visit Rikuzentakata, Fukushima

Kyodo News

Prime Minister Naoto Kan will visit disaster refugees Saturday in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Friday.

Traveling by Self-Defense Forces helicopter, Kan will also stop by the emergency staging ground for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis during the one-day trip to encourage SDF personnel and repair crews attempting to contain the emergency, Edano told reporters.

Government authorities and employees from Tokyo Electric Power Co. are working around the clock to keep the plant’s reactors cool and determine the source of its radiation leaks so it can restore its cooling systems and shut the reactors down.

The staging ground for the crisis is J-village, a soccer training facility about 20 km from the plant that is serving as a base of operations for the SDF, firefighters and other services.

Rikuzentakata was effectively wiped out by the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami on March 11. Much of its population was either killed or injured, and the rest are sheltering at evacuation facilities.

But Kan’s visit may be delayed to Sunday if the weather turns bad, Edano added.

Kan was scheduled to visit evacuees in the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 21 but canceled at the last minute due to poor weather.