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Japan Prime Minister Says Country Faces 'Most Severe Crisis' Since World War II

3 years ago
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Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, said Sunday that the earthquake and tsunami that had devastated much of northern Japan and raised the specter of nuclear meltdowns and release of radioactivity has confronted the nation with its most "severe crisis" since World War II.

"We Japanese people have overcome all kinds of hardships and were able to create a prosperous society," Kan said in an address televised nationwide. "In the face of the earthquake and tsunami we should be able to overcome these hardships, we believe we can overcome this."

However, he said, "The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II."

Officials predicted that the death toll in the prefecture of Miyagi, which is the state at the epicenter of the quake, would "certainly be more than 10,000," the Japanese network NHK reported.

More than 300,000 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters, many of them residents in areas near stricken nuclear power plants, and millions of Japanese are confronted with food shortages, loss of power and other basic services.

The government has ordered 100,000 troops to engage in rescue and recovery efforts, the largest such mobilization since the last world war.

Two of the nuclear power plants whose cooling systems had failed in the wake of the quake may experience at least partial meltdowns and the same problems loomed over four others, according to the New York Times.

While the magnitude of the situation at the nuclear plants has been likened to the Chernobyl disaster in Russia 25 years ago, where the plant's nuclear core was exposed and radioactive fallout spread over a wide area, the Times said Japanese nuclear safety officials and other experts believe that the release of radiation likely would be much smaller because of design differences in the plants.

At the plant where the situation was most dire – the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station which is about 170 miles north of Tokyo – officials sought to deal with the breakdown of cooling systems by flooding a reactor with seawater.

The cooling also failed at a second reactor at the plant, raising the specter that nuclear melting was occurring there too and posed the danger of another explosion at the facility such as the one that occurred Saturday.

"The possibility that hydrogen is building up in the upper parts of the reactor building cannot be denied," said Yukio Edano, the government's chief cabinet secretary. "There is a possibility of a hydrogen explosion."

But he said the steel containment structure at the plant was "designed to withstand shocks."

"If measures can be taken, we will be able to ensure the safety of the reactor," Edano said.

"We're in a key period now," nuclear expert Joe Cirincione said on "Fox News Sunday." "The next 12 to 24 hours will tell us whether the Japanese officials will be able to get control back over these reactors, or it's gone, it's lost. The pumping of the seawater into reactor number one is that last ditch effort to try to stop it before it's too late. If they can succeed, if they can hold it for the next 24 hours or, so then these reactor cores will cool down and will be implied path to containing this disaster."

Cirincione said that if the danger at the Japan reactors were "to stop right now" it would rank lower on the scale of nuclear accidents," a local event without significant injury." He said, "if it continues, it will certainly get to ... the Three Mile Island category of a serious event. We almost lost Three Mile Island and almost went meltdown. It stopped at the last minute. That is the situation we're fighting to maintain in Japan. If there is a meltdown, that puts it in a ... Chernobyl category -- a serious nuclear incident with potential for large scale loss of life."

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ladeekittee

Depending on their energy source/s, wheels turning will make electricity,could they rig one into a generator? If their energy is coming from different points, this may sound weird and don't laugh, an extension cord might work until source is on again. Wind, solar, wheels turning, water wheels, now you see why this is necessary. How to get the water off the streets, the drain system should be redone to let it drop into a resevoir or pumped back out. The shingles that flew off, to tell which house they came from, try putting them back on. Cobble and resupport structures. Magnets on cranes to put back straight what fell over. The past has showed old management,old bad ideas, let this be an example of how the world can help each other instead.

March 14 2011 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Johnny5_

Its good to see we human are thinking on a level of Love and not past inflictions either throw its in our heart just not at the time to be said still. Helping and supporting is all we can do. They still have their culture and we have ours. I was upset because Asians people have the creative energy and will of all people and their emphasis on wisdom and the supernatural. We Americans create technology but still we do not have technology that can protects us from earth or at least rescue us from earth like disasters. We still trying to learn how to be human being when really we are not. To me it may sound harsh but this is a wake up call. We all we get our wake up call to love all and who loved us since the begging of time.

March 14 2011 at 12:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BRUCE

The whole world hates Americans until they have such a need...how sad. But as a proud American and Vietnam Veteran it is my belief that this is when we are at our best..helping those in dire need. Let us continue to do so no matter what. It is our heritage and most outstanding feature. I apologize to the needy in America, as this weeks spare change will be headed to Japan.

March 13 2011 at 9:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jpk07452

We have already sent rescue teams with dogs, as has Singapore, another well-run country. Good work! I would recommend that we provide food, water, medicine and hospital care and let the Japanese generate the money. I doubt that mainland China will send money -- the Chinese are a great, smart and hard-working people but their government uses Japan as a metaphor for all things evil because most Chinese hate their own government and wish they werre more like Japan, Singapore, or Taiwan which have moderned without Marxism or undue oppression in the past half-century..

March 13 2011 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
namingway2

The Japanese will recover from this, with time and help. It may also be a social shock that is long overdue. Japan's been in a state of social and economic stagnation for decades now. It's employment has been calcified and socially it has been more focused on elderly and caregiving rather than generating new jobs and seeing to a new generation. Hopefully with such a tragedy they might rally. It will be horribly expensive though.

March 13 2011 at 5:25 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
DOG BOY

When a chance to give to others appears..take it and give whole heartly. The world isn't as huge as before. with all the Tecno, and what goes around -comes around. I like it to be kindness on the return trip.My friend always says..Take the high road and enjoy.

March 13 2011 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Pray for the Japanese, and let us give them everything we have that they say they need right now. This could very well be America, and I remember the aid offered by other countries when Katrina occurred, and when the BP oil spill happened. It is a testament to the good will of human beings, that no matter our differences, we will give aid to each other in the face of disasters.

March 13 2011 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ettu's comment
namingway2

Does that include money, if the Japanese government should ask us and China for credit?

March 13 2011 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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