Assistance assurances for Japan as nuclear crisis, implications take center stage at summit

G-8 urges atomic safety standards

Kyodo

Leaders from the Group of Eight major powers agreed Friday on the need to better define international standards for nuclear safety and further cooperate in assisting emerging Arab democracy during their two-day meeting in the French seaside resort of Deauville.

The G-8 leaders also stated in their joint declaration their readiness to stand by Japan as it rebuilds from the March 11 catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, which crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, leading to the worst nuclear accident in 25 years.

“The events in Japan confirm that there is a continuing need to re-evaluate safety and we recognize the importance of learning from the Fukushima accident and its aftermath,” the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia said in their declaration.

In addition to enhancing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s role in formulating better frameworks for nuclear safety, the leaders urged that “periodic review of safety assessments” must be carried out in countries that have atomic facilities.

In the first part of the communique, the leaders said, “We are fully confident in the ability of Japan to swiftly recover from this crisis and come back stronger” and that they are prepared to provide further assistance and cooperation. On the second day, the leaders discussed regional political concerns, including North Korea and Iran, before adopting the declaration.

Kan September U.S. visit

KYODO

Prime Minister Naoto Kan met Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama and agreed to make an official visit to Washington in early September, following ministerial security talks in late June to discuss the relocation of the U.S. Futenma base in Okinawa and other bilateral issues.

Obama made the invitation to Kan on the sidelines of a two-day Group of Eight summit in the French resort town of Deauville, a Japanese official said.

Kan’s visit to the United States was initially planned for the first half of the year but was postponed in an apparent reflection of the stalemate over the issue of relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture.

Obama said that although he recognizes that there are political difficulties, he strongly wants to make progress on the matter for the sake of the long-term stability of the Japan-U.S. security alliance, the official said.

Kan told Obama that Japan will stick to a bilateral accord reached last May that endorsed the transfer of flight operations at the base from Ginowan to a coastal area of Nago, both in Okinawa.

In 2006, Japan and the United States agreed to complete the relocation by 2014, but the deadline is not expected to be met because of the consistently strong opposition from locals in the prefecture, who have fought the issue tooth and nail for well over a decade.