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New industry minister Obuchi visits crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 plant

Kyodo

Just days after assuming the post, new industry minister Yuko Obuchi visited the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Sunday.

Speaking to workers dealing with reactor decommissioning and the buildup of radioactive water at the site, the economy, trade and industry minister said, “Because of your dedicated work, we are seeing progress step by step.”

During the visit to the plant, Obuchi held talks with officials of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and contractors on the challenges they face.

Obuchi then went to the top floor of the No. 4 reactor building where fuel is being removed from the spent fuel pool and observed work to build another water treatment system to reduce radiation levels of the massive amount of radioactive water being kept in tanks.

She also checked the progress of a government-funded project to build an underground ice wall around the basements of the Nos. 1-4 reactor buildings to prevent groundwater from further seeping into the buildings and becoming contaminated with radioactive substances.

Regarding radioactive water issues, Obuchi admitted that problems have occurred but noted the “overall” situation is “under control.”

Obuchi, daughter of late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and the youngest member of the Cabinet, was appointed as economy, trade and industry minister on Wednesday when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his Cabinet.