On the wake of the multiple high-profile gaffes concerning the clean-up of the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to take a personal look at the current situation and is set to visit the crippled nuclear facility today. This goes hand-in-hand with the government’s efforts to calm down the growing public outrage about the almost 300 tons of contaminated groundwater leaking daily into the Pacific Ocean.
During the three-hour plant tour, Abe will be looking at some of the 1,000 tanks containing radioactive water, water treatment equipment and a chemical dam being installed along the coast that is meant to at least control water leakage. “Today, I will enter the Fukushima Daiichi Plant,” Abe said in a post on his official Facebook page. “I will do my utmost to protect people’s health and the sea,” the post also said. Abe’s adamant reassurance to the International Olympic Committee earlier this month – as Tokyo was given hosting privileges to the 2020 Summer Olympics – that the Fukushima situation is “under control” seems to have backfired with the Japanese public, as many believe he was attempting to gloss over the numerous problems at the plant. Hours before the announcement was made by the IOC, Abe said in a speech that radioactive elements from the leakage had no impact on sea water outside the bay near the plant. Tokyo was not at risk, he insisted.
With the public’s opinion being shaped by the mishandling of the Fukushima mess by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) – the plant’s operator – and the Japanese government, Abe has recently announced a US$470 million (over 46 billion yen) fund for the first part of a plan developed by TEPCO to stop the groundwater leak into the ocean. The contaminated water is coming from the cooling process that TEPCO is using to decommission the molten-down cores of the facility, where the waste water that is generated by the process measures around 800 tons on a daily basis.