Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday the impact from accumulating radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has been “under control.”
The government will “continue efforts to address the problem with multiple preventive measures,” using the world’s wisdom, Abe told a plenary session of the House of Representatives.
“The situation has been under control as a whole,” Abe reckoned, answering questions from Banri Kaieda, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, about the policy speech Abe delivered Tuesday when the Diet convened an extraordinary session. The DPJ was in power when the Fukushima nuclear crisis started in 2011.
Abe’s repeated no-cause-for-alarm assessments of the situation at the Fukushima plant, which suffered three reactor-core meltdowns shortly after it was hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and monster tsunami, are raising the eyebrows of critics who regard the condition as worrying and warn of possible negative fallout on the environment and industries.
Critics also lashed out when Abe made similar assertions last month when he made a presentation to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires for Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. The city won the bid by beating Istanbul and Madrid, but at the same time repeated reports on the radioactive water spills plaguing the Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plant were circulating, causing an international stir.
Kaieda said Wednesday that Abe should be more careful about assessing the situation at the plant, criticizing his remarks as being “extremely flippant.”
Radioactive water is increasing daily at the plant as groundwater flows into reactor buildings and mixes with water used to cool the three crippled reactors.
Some of the contaminated water is kept in around 1,000 tanks set up at the site, and Tepco is struggling to prevent spills from the storage tanks, as well as to curb the daily flow, reportedly amounting to hundreds of tons, of radioactive groundwater into the Pacific Ocean from the plant.
Abe also reiterated in the Lower House that the government will play a major role in addressing the water problem, not leaving the task to the utility alone. The government has unveiled a basic policy to handle the situation, including potential financial assistance for the utility.