Sendai port reopens for business

Boatload of Toyotas bound for Nagoya signals major Tohoku harbor shrugging off disaster

Kyodo

Commercial shipments at Sendai port resumed Saturday for the first time since the area was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in a fresh sign that commodity distribution is being restored.

Around 300 Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, manufactured at the factory of a group firm in Iwate Prefecture, were loaded onto a large cargo carrier at the port and shipped to Nagoya.

“We have completed the distribution system, and we expect corporations to use the port more,” said Takashi Hashiura, a senior Miyagi prefectural official in charge of port-related facilities.

The prefecture also said the construction of a combined 1,311 temporary housing units will be completed in 13 disaster-hit municipalities, including Sendai and Ishinomaki, by April 28.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai said: “We are working to secure building sites for temporary housing in order to start construction of 10,000 units by mid-May.

“We will definitely provide necessary units,” he said.

In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, meanwhile, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohata said the government is willing to use building materials produced in the quake-hit Tohoku region to construct temporary housing.

“We will seek the help of local constructors (in building temporary housing) so we can generate more employment,” he said after meeting with Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso. As of 10 a.m. Saturday, around 28,000 people were confirmed dead or remained listed as missing — 13,645 deaths and 14,384 missing — in the wake of the disaster, according to the National Police Agency.

Tokyo now OK: France

PARIS

The French Embassy in Tokyo has moved to dispel radiation fears by stating that travel to and living in the capital poses no danger to human health, a statement on its website said.

In the statement, however, the embassy advised French nationals to refrain from traveling to Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, saying the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, crippled by the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami, remains unstable.

Two days after the disaster, the embassy advised French nationals living in the Tokyo metropolitan area to move to areas west of the Kanto region if they did not have good reason to remain.