Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday in front of a plenary session of the Japanese parliament that the impact from accumulating radioactive water at the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has always been “under control.” Abe further said that the Japanese central government will “continue efforts to address the problem with multiple preventive measures that will put together wisdom in the world.”
In light of the numerous high-profile and very public gaffes that the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) – operator of the Fukushima nuclear facility – have had in the past few months, Banri Kaieda, head of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, is inclined to think otherwise, as he asked the premier questions about his policy speech delivered on Tuesday at the opening of the Diet’s extra session. “The situation has been under control as a whole,” Abe answered. The prime minister has repeatedly taken this stance on the situation at the Fukushima plant, where TEPCO is attempting to clean up multiple molten down reactor cores affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Critics have raised their eyebrows at this, as the public has begun to regard the condition at Fukushima as worrying. Abe also presented his opinion of the situation to the world last month when he gave a speech to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires for Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has won the bid, but not without questions and arguments regarding the true situation at Fukushima.
Kaieda said on Wednesday that Abe should be more careful about assessing the situation at the plant, criticizing his remarks as being “extremely flippant.” The public already knows about the growing quantity of radioactive waste water increasing daily at the plant. The contaminated water is stored in some 1,000 hastily-set up tanks at the site, and embattled operator TEPCO is struggling to prevent leaks from these storage tanks. Abe reiterated in the lower house that the government will be playing a major role in addressing the water problem, as it will not be leaving the task to TEPCO alone any longer. The government has recently unveiled a basic policy in handling the situation, including potential financial assistance for the utility.