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Japan PM 'sorry' over Fukushima no-go zones

"I am very sorry. I apologise," Kan said, according to Jiji Press. -AFP

Sat, Aug 27, 2011

TOKYO - Japan's outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday said he was sorry that some areas close to the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will remain uninhabitable for a long time.

"In reality, I cannot deny the possibility unfortunately for residents not being able to return and live in some places for a long time even after taking decontamination measures," Kan told Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato.

"I am very sorry. I apologise," Kan said, according to Jiji Press.

Everywhere inside a 20-kilometre radius of the plant was evacuated after the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

But a recent government survey has shown that some areas within the zone are contaminated with radiation equivalent to more than 500 millisieverts (mSv) per year. The government's legal safety limit is 20 mSv per year.

The science and technology ministry survey also found that 15 out of 50 monitoring spots within the zone were contaminated at levels equivalent to more than 100 mSv per year.

Kan, who visited nuclear crisis-hit Fukushima prefecture, also told the governor that the local government will have to build an interim storage site for radioactive mud and rubble collected in the prefecture.

Kan stepped down Friday after nearly 15 turbulent months in power during which his response to the earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear accident drew fierce criticism and sent his approval ratings plummeting.

He acknowledged at a press conference: "I was not sufficiently competent and prepared" for the disaster.

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