• Kyodo

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Some 800 residents and workers at nuclear power facilities in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, took part in a nuclear disaster drill Saturday to mark the first anniversary of Japan’s worst nuclear accident at the village.

The drill, based on the premise that a local nuclear reactor had suffered a fault and been shut down following a radiation leakage, started at 8:30 a.m.

The village government immediately informed the national and prefectural governments about the accident and called on residents to shut their windows and stay inside.

Tokai Mayor Tatsuya Murakami held a news conference to alert the public and announced measures being taken by the village authorities to deal with the problem.

Residents near the site of the “accident” — a reactor at Japan Atomic Power Co.’s second Tokai nuclear power plant — were evacuated by bus to a community center about 3 km away, where they underwent radiation exposure tests.

“I will never forget the day (when the accident occurred,)” Murakami told reporters. “I take this drill very seriously. The village will do its utmost to provide local residents with swift information — a procedure where we made mistakes one year ago.”

A separate drill was held the same day in the neighboring town of Naka on the assumption that radiation had leaked from a nuclear fuel processing facility.

Last year’s self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction at a uranium-processing plant run by JCO Co. in Tokai, 120 km northeast of Tokyo, was Japan’s worst nuclear accident.

It resulted in the deaths of two nuclear workers from exposure to massive amounts of radiation. At least 439 people, including 207 local residents, were exposed to higher-than-normal levels of radiation.

In Tokyo, about 80 members of citizens’ groups and antinuclear activists demonstrated in front of the Science and Technology Agency in Kasumigaseki, mourning the death of the two JCO workers and protesting the government’s policy of promoting nuclear power despite the Tokai catastrophe.

“The agency is responsible for Japan’s worst nuclear accident because it has been formulating Japan’s nuclear policy,” said Hisataka Yamazaki, one of the organizers of the protest.

Kuniko Horiguchi, another of the demonstrators, blamed the government and JCO for failing to pay proper compensation to those exposed to radiation in the accident.

“The national government and JCO should take full responsibility for the accident and settle the problem (of compensation),” she said.

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