Foreign journalists visit Fukushima nuclear plant

Foreign journalists visit Fukushima nuclear plant
Journalists learn about disaster victims at a seminar in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 13.

Journalists from 11 countries recently visited Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to observe various facilities there and the progress of reconstruction in nearby areas of Fukushima Prefecture.

Fourteen journalists took part in the bus tour, which was organised by the Japanese Association of Science and Technology Journalists headed by Shigeyuki Koide. It was held in co-operation with entities including The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Clad in white protective suits and particle filter masks, the reporters entered the premises of the nuclear power plant on June 12. The bus tour took them to several sites in the plant, where they observed a test of a frozen soil wall meant to prevent the inflow of underground water by freezing the soil around the reactor buildings.

They also saw a group of storage tanks for tainted water, more and more of which have been built.

During the tour, which began at 2 p.m., several operations were not carried out to prevent workers from getting heat stroke.

Chhatra Karki, a 40-year-old staff writer for a Nepalese daily who took part in the tour, said he understood the situation. It is important to proceed with the work as scheduled, but also to secure the safety of the workers, Karki said.

The following day, the journalists visited Miharu in the prefecture, where they attended a seminar to exchange ideas with former Vice Mayor Shigeru Fukaya and Sokyu Genyu, an Akutagawa literary prize winner and chief priest at a temple in the town.

Immediately after the crisis began at the plant, the municipal government decided on its own initiative to give stable iodine tablets to Miharu residents to protect them from internal radiation exposure. At the seminar, the participants heard about the factors behind the municipality's decision and the feelings of disaster victims.

The world needs to learn a lesson from Japan, said Jukka Lehtinen, a 42-year-old freelance journalist from Finland.

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