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'Risk of radiation leaks receding'

Grappling with their worst atomic crisis triggered by last month's mega-quake and tsunami, Japanese authorities have said the immediate danger of blasts or major radiation leaks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has receded.

world Updated: Apr 24, 2011 17:30 IST

Grappling with their worst atomic crisis triggered by last month's mega-quake and tsunami, Japanese authorities have said the immediate danger of blasts or major radiation leaks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has receded.

The government cannot say the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been completely stabilised, Goshi Hosono, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's special adviser responsible for dealing with the accident, told 'The Wall Street Journal'.

Still, Japan is comfortable with its evacuation policy even after studying various possibilities of deterioration at the plant, he said, adding the immediate danger of explosions or major radiation leaks at the facility has receded.

"There is no way Tokyo or Kyoto will come into harm's way," Hosono told the Journal, six weeks after the twin disaster left nearly 30,000 people dead or unaccounted for.

He said that installing cooling functions outside of the radiation-plant is a component of Japan's effort to stabilise the situation.

"Our goal is very clear: Preventing further spreading of radiation into the atmosphere and into the ocean," Hosono, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, was quoted as saying.

The Japanese government plans to submit an interim report summarising the outcome of its investigations into the Fukushima disaster at an IAEA ministerial meeting in June, he said.

Japanese officials and lawmakers are starting to look into potential causes and the handling of the accident, said Hosono. The investigation will be conducted by a special independent committee made up of experts with subpoena power, to be set up outside of Parliament.

Meanwhile, thousands of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and US military personnel will launch a third massive search tomorrow for about 12,000 people who still remain unaccounted for after the March 11 magnitude-9 quake and tsunami in Japan's northeast.

During the two-day joint operation, which follows two similar operations earlier this month, the SDF and US military along with Japanese police and Coast Guard will search coastal and inland areas as well as waters off Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, one of the worst-hit areas, national broadcaster NHK reported today.

The SDF will provide 25,000 members, 90 aircraft, and 50 navy ships during the mission, that will also take place in inland areas and waters off the coast within 30 km of the radiation-leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant. Those areas were not covered in previous operations.

Workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant damaged by last month's earthquake and tsunami continued to battle hard to deal with the radioactive water inside the facility as their exposure to radiation was constantly increasing.