The radiation levels have subsided but not the danger from rising temperatures in Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors, so Japan has prepared for its team to re-enter the plant today. Workers retreated yesterday when radiation levels rose:
Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors. Hours later, officials said they were preparing to send the team back in.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who had been dousing the reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilize their temperatures, had no choice but to pull back from the most dangerous areas.
“The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now,” he said Wednesday morning, as smoke billowed above the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. “Because of the radiation risk we are on standby.”
Later, an official with Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, said the team had withdrawn about 500 yards (meters) from the complex, but were getting ready to go back in.
CNN aired two video reports this morning wondering where the international community was in this crisis. Stan Grant says that Japan has asked for international assistance, but only one country has apparently responded. Guess which one? Meanwhile, the IAEA appears to be AWOL in the crisis:
That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any international response apart from the US. China, for instance, has thrown a substantial amount of resources into the crisis response — by getting its people out of Japan:
Amid escalating fears of a catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan, China became the first nation to begin evacuating its citizens from the country, saying the “seriousness and uncertainty” of the damaged reactors caused it to be “very concerned” about the safety of its nationals. Foreign companies, too, have begun flying non-essential expatriate staff out of the capital, Tokyo. But other countries, including the U.S. and Canada, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude before ordering costly and logistically challenging evacuations, only advising their citizens at home to avoid travel to Japan.
After the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo posted the notice on its website Tuesday, buses were immediately mobilized to begin transporting Chinese nationals from four northern prefectures – Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate – to airports in Tokyo and Niigata to fly home to China. China Southern Airlines said it would replace the Airbus-321 aircrafts on its Tokyo-Shenyang route with much larger Airbus-300s to accommodate the sizeable numbers of evacuees. Two ships capable of transporting a total of 4,000 people were also on standby in the Chinese city of Yantai, China National Radio reported.
The crisis has prompted a rare televised address from Japan’s imperial figurehead, Emperor Akihito, to the nation in an attempt to boost morale:
The 77-year-old monarch, who is held in great respect by most Japanese, said he was praying for people’s safety and thanked rescue teams from home and abroad for their efforts to find survivors.
In the extremely rare televised appearance, the emperor said: “The number of people killed is increasing day by day and we do not know how many people have fallen victim.[“] …
The ageing monarch also paid tribute to the military, police and fire department personnel involved in disaster response efforts, as well as national and local governments and rescue teams from abroad. …
A spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency said it was the first time the emperor had addressed the nation on television in the wake of a natural disaster.
Right now, Japan can use as many morale boosters as it can get.