Japan still reeling one month later

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tokyo - One month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern and eastern regions of Japan, thousands of people remain missing and workers at a crippled nuclear power plant are still struggling to regain control.

But amid the ongoing crisis, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressed his heartfelt gratitude in a written message to all the countries that have offered Japan aid and support in its time of crisis.

Kan's message began: "Thank you for the Kizuna (bonds of friendship)," and was carried in major newspapers all over the world on Monday.

"Every blanket and every cup of hot soup brought warmth and strength to the cold and exhausted who had lost everything," the premier's message read.

"We deeply appreciate the Kizuna our friends around the world have shown and I want to thank every nation, entity, and you personally, from the bottom of my heart," the statement read.

Meanwhile, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Monday that while the nuclear situation remains severe, the risk of a massive radiation leak at the faltering Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was far lower than this time last month, when the crisis struck.

The 6.6-magnitude aftershock forced evacuation of workers from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and briefly cut power to three stricken reactors, straining nerves again in a country still battling. 

"The risk that the situation will worsen and that there would be new massive emissions of radioactive materials is becoming considerably smaller," the top government spokesperson told a news conference.

Edano went on to hint that due to the levels of radiation within the evacuation zone, the area around the plant may become a designated no-go zone, enforceable by law to prevent residents from returning home to collect possessions and exposing themselves to potentially dangerous levels of radiation.

Edano said that some districts within a 20 to 30-kilometer radius of the power plant will now be designated as additional evacuation areas. - BuaNews-Xinhua