Thirty seconds into what may ultimately be regarded as one of the defining speeches of his career, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slowly raised his hands chest high, then spread them out sideways in a gesture of confidence.

"Let me assure you," he said, addressing members of the International Olympic Committee on Sept. 7. "The situation is under control."

The prime minister was attempting to convince his audience in Buenos Aires that the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, initiated by tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, should not be a cause of concern for Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.