Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was given a tour of the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Sunday amid public criticism over the country’s future energy policy and upcoming general elections. He praised a group of people working inside the facility for their dedication in helping Japan survive the ongoing nuclear crisis. Once he donned in white gear to protect from radiation exposure, the prime minister was shown the damaged reactor where spent nuclear fuel was planning to be removed.
This was Prime Minister Noda’s second visit to the Fukushima plant, with his first taking place last September immediately after taking office. The Japanese premier said that the country cannot fully heal until the damaged plant is revived, encouraging the workers to continue their decommissioning efforts. Speaking to the press afterwards, Noda said that decontamination needed to be accelerated for sake of Fukushima Prefecture’s recovery. Much of the area is still enclosed in an evacuation zone, preventing tens of thousands from returning to their homes.
While the Japanese central government stated last week that it would aim for a goal of eliminating all use of nuclear power by the year 2040, it also stated that two nuclear plant that had begun construction before the March 11th disaster would have permission to be completed, leaving many to question the previous pledge. Noda could be attempting to cover up that contradiction with this visit, hoping to raise any remaining support and popularity before upcoming Lower House elections which could result in his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)’s loss of power.