A tsunami measuring about 3 meters high reached the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa Prefecture following a powerful earthquake that shook central Japan last week.According to Hokuriku Electric Power Co., the tsunami reached the facility approximately 90 minutes after a 7.6-magnitude quake hit the region on New Year's Day.The tsunami did not damage the plant, as it is built about 11 meters above sea level and has a 4-meter tall seawall, the utility said in a statement.Hokuriku Electric said on Jan. 2 that it had not detected any significant change in the water levels on measuring equipment. But it later said a rise in the levels had been observed.The death toll from the earthquake that struck the Sea of Japan coast a week ago has risen to over 200, while 120 others are still missing, as search teams continue to comb through the affected areas in the city of Wajima to recover victims from under the rubble. (QNA)
The number of people killed in the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that hit central Japan last week rose to 180.Officials in Ishikawa Prefecture say that more than 120 people are still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands impacted by the disaster are still struggling, Japan's broadcaster NHK World reported.Search and recovery crews are still sifting through the city of Wajima, near the earthquake's epicenter.More than 200 buildings were burned down by a massive fire sparked during the disaster.Ishikawa Prefecture says more than 3,000 people in the Noto region remain isolated. (QNA)
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa made an unannounced visit on Sunday to Ukraine, where she will hold talks with government officials including her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to vow continued support for Ukraine.Japan's Kyodo News quoted the Japanese Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement that Kamikawa will reiterate Japan's support for Ukraine.Her visit comes ahead of a conference the country will host in Tokyo on Feb. 19 aimed at discussing the reconstruction of Ukraine, which has suffered widespread destruction since Russia invaded in February 2022.Kamikawa, who arrived in Ukraine by train from Poland, is expected to reiterate that Japan's support for Ukraine "remains unchanged," and convey as well its commitment to the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine through the conference, the ministry said.During her visit, she will stress the importance of upholding the international order based on the rule of law from the standpoint of not tolerating any attempts to change the status quo by force, according to the ministry.Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a surprise trip to Ukraine in March, while Kamikawa's predecessor, Yoshimasa Hayashi, visited the country in September. (QNA)
The death toll from the earthquake that struck central Japan last Monday has risen to 78, and is likely to continue increasing in light of difficulties in search and rescue operations due to collapsed buildings.The 7.6 magnitude earthquake caused major damage and fires in Ishikawa Prefecture, where continued aftershocks and rubble on the roads hampered rescue operations.Many people are believed to be still trapped under the rubble in the hard-hit coastal city of Wajima, while fears are growing that rainy weather could lead to landslides in areas affected by the quakeAbout 33,000 people remained in Ishikawa in evacuation centers, while at least 200 buildings collapsed, and thousands of rescuers are trying to save people trapped under the rubble, amid temperatures reaching freezing and heavy rain; Yet, the blocked roads and the remoteness of the most affected areas make it difficult.Japan is located at the meeting point of four tectonic plates, making it particularly vulnerable to seismic activity. It is also home to 100 active volcanoes.In 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan and triggered a tsunami, killing more than 15,000 people, and causing a disaster at Fukushima nuclear plant. (QNA)
Four people were injured in a blade attack carried out by a woman inside a train car in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) reported that the emergency police received a call warning of an armed woman with a blade in one of the train carriages at Akihabara Station.The woman was arrested on an attempted murder charge after injuring four people, who were subsequently taken to the hospital for necessary treatment.Traffic on the Yamanote Line was halted due to the incident. (QNA)
At least 64 people were killed in the powerful earthquake that jolted the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas in central Japan, with ongoing difficulties in search and rescue operations due to debris and blocked roads.Japan's Kyodo News explained that the full extent of the disaster is still unknown, adding that the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned of potential mudslides and intermittent rain through Thursday in the affected areas in the prefecture.Japan's Self-Defense Forces were set to use helicopters to deliver supplies to cut-off areas, with local authorities asking the central government to send Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel for a disaster relief mission.Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference on Wednesday that the government had decided to increase the number of SDF members working in the disaster-stricken region from 1,000 at present to 2,000.The earthquake was centered around 30 km east-northeast of Wajima with a provisional depth of 16 km and registered the highest level of 7 on Japan's seismic intensity scale, according to the JMA. (QNA)
Jet burst into flames after collision with Coast Guard planeCoast Guard plane was due to deliver aid to quake zoneAviation expert praises evacuation 'miracle'Five of six crew on Coast Guard plane killedAll 379 people aboard a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane escaped the burning airliner after a collision with a Coast Guard aircraft at Tokyo's Haneda airport that killed five of six crew on the smaller craft on Tuesday.Live footage on public broadcaster NHK showed the JAL Airbus A350 airliner burst into flames as it skidded down the tarmac shortly before 6 p.m. (0900 GMT)."I felt a boom like we had hit something and jerked upward the moment we landed," a passenger told Kyodo news agency. "I saw sparks outside the window and the cabin filled with gas and smoke."All 367 passengers and 12 crew were evacuated from the blaze which destroyed the airliner.At least 17 people on it were injured, NHK reported, citing the Tokyo Fire Department.Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito confirmed that five of the Coast Guard aircraft's crew had died while the captain of the plane had been injured.A ministry official told a press briefing the JAL plane was attempting to land normally when it collided with the Coast Guard's Bombardier-built Dash-8 maritime patrol plane on the runway.There had been no reports of engine or other problems on the airliner before the landing, the official said.The Coast Guard said its plane was headed to Niigata on Japan's west coast to deliver aid to those caught up in a powerful earthquake that struck on New Year's Day, killing at least 55 people.A JAL official told a press briefing it was the airline's understanding that the flight had received permission to land, although he added that exchanges with flight control were still under investigation.Video footage and images shared on social media showed passengers shouting inside the plane's smoke-filled cabin and running across the tarmac after escaping via an evacuation slide."The cabin crew must have done an excellent job... It was a miracle that all the passengers got off," said Paul Hayes, director of air safety at UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend by Cirium.Kaoru Ishii who was waiting outside the arrival gate for her 29-year-old daughter and boyfriend said she initially though the flight was delayed until her daughter called to explain."She said the plane had caught fire and she exited via a slide," Ishii said. "I was really relieved that she was alright."A JAL spokesperson said its aircraft had departed from New Chitose airport on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.Haneda, one of the two main airports serving the Japanese capital Tokyo was closed for several hours following the accident, but the transport ministry official said three runways had since resumed operations.JAL's Japanese rival ANA had earlier said it had cancelled 110 domestic flights departing and landing at Haneda for the rest of Tuesday.Transport Minister Saito said the cause of the accident was unclear and the Japan Transport Safety Board, police and other departments would continue to investigate.Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said authorities were working to ensure the accident did not affect deliveries of earthquake relief supplies."This is a great regret as the crew members performed their duties with a strong sense of mission and responsibility for the victims of the disaster area," he said, referring to those killed on the Coast Guard plane.
The death toll from the powerful earthquake that struck the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas in central Japan has risen to 24 people as rescue operations continue.Kyodo News explained that "the magnitude-7.6 quake caused extensive structural damage and fires in the city of Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture, as continuing aftershocks and rubble on roads hampered rescue operations."Tsunami warnings covering large areas along the Sea of Japan were lifted on Tuesday morning, after the highest wave of around 1.2 meters reached Wajima Port on Monday night.Ishikawa prefectural officials said that fires have engulfed over 200 structures in the central Wajima area, but the chances of them spreading further are slim.Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that, " it is extremely difficult for vehicles to enter northern areas of the Noto Peninsula," adding that the central government has been coordinating shipment of relief supplies using ships. Around 1,000 Self-Defense Force personnel were sent in rescue and relief operations, Kishida said.The earthquake's center was around 30 kilometers east-northeast of Wajima with a depth of 16 km. It registered a maximum 7 on the country's seismic intensity scale, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. (QNA)
A massive earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale rocked central Japan on Monday, triggering a tsunami warning and advisories for residents to evacuate.The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning along western coastal regions of Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama, Yamagata, Fukui and Hyogo prefectures, also along the Japan Sea Coast.Waves more than one meter high (3.3 feet) struck parts of the coast along the Sea of Japan, including the coast of Wajima City in Ishikawa, while tsunami of up to five meters high (16.5 feet) are believed to be reaching Noto in Ishikawa, public broadcaster NHK reported.Buildings began to sway in the area around the capital Tokyo. There were initially no reports of damage or casualties.South Korea also warned the sea level in some areas along the east coast may rise after the earthquake.Japan is one of the countries in the world most at risk from earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. The country is also home to about 10% of the world's active volcanoes.In 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Japan and triggered a tsunami, leaving more than 15,000 people killed and a disaster at Fukushima nuclear plant. (QNA)
Japan announced it will send Patriot air defense missiles to the United States after changing its arms export rules."This holds significant meaning in terms of further strengthening the Japan-US alliance. It will contribute not only to Japan's security but also the peace and stability of the wider Indo-Pacific region," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said following the announcement.The United States welcomed the move, saying it would replenish US inventories."This decision will contribute to the security of Japan and to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region by ensuring that US forces, in close cooperation with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, will continue to maintain a credible deterrence and response capability," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.The move could free up the US to send its own stockpile to Ukraine, as western powers have been running out of ammunition to supply Ukraine in its defense against Russia.The Patriot system is among the most advanced weapons supplied by the US to Ukraine.Under previous rules, Japan could only export components of arms and was prohibited from delivering completed products. The revised guidelines now allow Tokyo to export completed products to countries where patent holders are based.Japan's Foreign Ministry said that the missiles could only be sent to the US, and would require Japan's approval to be sent to a third country. Japan still bans the export of weapons to countries at war.This could mean that Japan-made Patriot missiles may replenish the US' stockpile, while Washington sends US-made ones to Ukraine. (QNA)
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has decided to step down as leader of his faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party amid popular criticism.The LDP has recently faced criticism amid allegations that five factions, including Kishida's, did not accurately report their revenues from political fundraising events, from which additional revenues may have been used as bribes or kickbacks. While Kishida's predecessors typically resigned as leaders of their factions during their terms as prime minister to avoid the appearance of patronage-driven politics, he has retained the position since assuming office in October 2021, Japan News Agency (Kyodo) reported.In the wake of the political funds scandal, Kishida instructed LDP executives to refrain from hosting fundraising parties, but there have been increasing calls for him to leave his faction to regain public trust for the ruling party.The biggest faction chaired by House of Representatives member Ryu Shionoya, is suspected to have pooled secret funds amounting to over 100 million yen.The Cabinet's approval ratings have fallen to their lowest levels since Kishida became prime minister, according to Kyodo. (QNA)
Japan's new Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa pledged Wednesday to do her best to "enhance Japan's presence," with the nation facing challenges including building stable ties with China and tackling military threats posed by neighboring nations.Minister Yoko was appointed Wednesday as part of a cabinet reshuffle, becoming the first female foreign minister in around 20 years in Japan, reported Kyodo. In her first press conference after being appointed Foreign Minister, Yoko said that she will make efforts to contribute "not only to Japan's interest but also to the peace of the world"She was appointed as foreign minister at a time when Tokyo and Beijing have been at odds over issues such as Japan's release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean that started on Aug. 24. Yoko is one of the five female ministers in the reshuffled Cabinet. The 70-year-old House of Representatives member previously served three terms as justice minister.The new Japanese Foreign Minister is likely to visit New York next week to attend the ongoing annual session of the UN General Assembly and other meetings on its sidelines. (QNA)
Japan's prime minister hit out at Beijing on Monday over what he said were instances of stones being thrown at diplomatic missions and schools in China, following the release of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant.Last week, China banned all seafood imports from its neighbour after Japan began releasing cooling water from the stricken Fukushima plant in an operation that Tokyo and the UN's nuclear watchdog have said is safe.Since then, Japanese businesses ranging from bakeries to aquariums have received reportedly thousands of sometimes abusive crank calls from Chinese numbers."There have been numerous harassment calls believed to originate from China and instances of stones being thrown into the Japanese embassy and Japanese schools. It must be said these are regrettable," Fumio Kishida told reporters."We summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan today and strongly urged him to call on Chinese people to act in a calm and responsible manner," Kishida added.The comments came after Japan said it was heightening security at its diplomatic missions and schools in China.Tokyo over the weekend told its tens of thousands of nationals living in China to keep a low profile and not to speak Japanese loudly in public.Deputy Foreign Minister Masataka Okano told ambassador Wu Jianghao that China should properly inform the public "rather than unnecessarily raising people's concerns by providing information that is not based on scientific evidence", the foreign ministry said in a statement.Social media users in China have posted recordings and videos of the nuisance calls, some of which have attracted tens of thousands of likes and a large number of comments."Since the start of the discharge... there have been numerous phone calls and other harassment regarding the discharge that are suspected of originating from China. The situation has not improved since then," Okano told Wu."A number of similar incidents are also happening in China against Japan-related facilities. This is extremely regrettable and we are deeply concerned," he said, according to the release.Japan has begun releasing more than 500 Olympic swimming pools' worth of wastewater from Fukushima into the Pacific, 12 years after a tsunami knocked out three reactors in one of the world's worst atomic accidents.Plant operator TEPCO says all radioactive elements have been filtered out except for tritium, levels of which are within safe limits.Test results since the start of the discharge have confirmed this, according to Japanese authorities.
Japan summoned China's ambassador on Monday to protest against a flood of nuisance calls from China to local businesses following the release of water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.Deputy Foreign Minister Masataka Okano told ambassador Wu Jianghao that China should properly inform the public "rather than unnecessarily raising people's concerns by providing information that is not based on scientific evidence", the foreign ministry said in a statement.Last week, China banned all seafood imports from its neighbour after Japan began releasing cooling water from the stricken Fukushima plant in an operation that Tokyo and the UN's nuclear watchdog have said is safe.Since then, apparently randomly chosen Japanese businesses ranging from bakeries to aquariums have received reportedly thousands of sometimes abusive crank calls from Chinese numbers.Social media users in China have posted recordings and videos of these calls, some of which have attracted tens of thousands of likes and a large number of comments."Since the start of the discharge... there have been numerous phone calls and other harassment regarding the discharge that are suspected of originating from China. The situation has not improved since then," Okano told Wu."A number of similar incidents are also happening in China against Japan-related facilities. This is extremely regrettable and we are deeply concerned," he said, according to the release.Japan's embassy over the weekend urged the tens of thousands of Japanese living in China to keep a low profile and not talk loudly in public.On Monday, it said it had increased security measures outside Japanese schools and diplomatic missions in China.According to Japanese media, there have been several incidents of stones and eggs being thrown at Japanese schools.Japan has begun releasing more than 500 Olympic swimming pools' worth of wastewater from Fukushima into the Pacific, 12 years after a tsunami knocked out three reactors in one of the world's worst atomic accidents.Plant operator TEPCO says that all radioactive elements have been filtered out except for tritium, levels of which are within safe limits.Test results since the start of the discharge have confirmed this, according to Japanese authorities.
Final preparations to discharge wastewater from the crippled Fukushima power plant in Japan were under way Wednesday, its operator said, a day before the scheduled release into the Pacific Ocean.Tokyo had announced on Tuesday that the operation would begin on Thursday, prompting an angry response from China and partial import bans on Japanese seafood by Hong Kong and Macau.The operator of the plant, TEPCO, said that it diluted late Tuesday a cubic metre of the wastewater with around 1,200 cubic metres of seawater and allowed it to flow into position in a pipe.This water will be tested and then from Thursday released into the Pacific Ocean together with more water stored at the site that will be transferred and diluted, TEPCO said in a statement.Media reports said the operation would begin around 1:00 pm (0400 GMT), while the operator declined to confirm the reports.The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station was knocked out by a massive earthquake and tsunami that killed around 18,000 people in March 2011, sending three of its reactors into meltdown.TEPCO has since collected 1.34 million cubic metres of water -- almost 540 Olympic swimming pools' worth -- used to cool what remains of the still highly radioactive reactors, mixed with groundwater and rain.A special system has filtered out all radioactive nuclides except for tritium, levels of which will be well below that released by nuclear power plants in their normal operations -- including in China, TEPCO says.The release has been endorsed by the UN's nuclear watchdog -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- which said it will have staff on site on Thursday.With around 1,000 steel containers holding the water at the site, TEPCO says that it needs to clear space for the next stage of the lengthy, expensive and risky decommissioning of the plant.That is the removal of molten nuclear fuel and radioactive rubble from the wrecked reactors, an operation so dangerous that TEPCO will need to use robots and not humans.The plant operator will carry out four releases of treated water from Thursday until March 2024, with 7,800 cubic metres of water released each time, its documents showed.The first discharge will take about 17 days. About 5 trillion becquerels of tritium will be released this fiscal year, TEPCO added.- 'Sewer' -China has accused Japan of treating the ocean like a "sewer", banning imports of food from 10 of Japan's 47 prefectures even before the water release and imposing strict radiation checks.Beijing on Tuesday summoned Japan's ambassador "to make solemn representations", while Hong Kong and Macau, both Chinese territories, banned the import of "aquatic products" from the same 10 regions.Analysts said that while China may have genuine safety concerns, its strong reaction is also at least in part motivated by its economic rivalry and frosty relations with Japan.The South Korean government, which is seeking to improve ties with Japan, has not objected although many ordinary people are worried and have staged protests.Social media posts in China and South Korea have included false claims about the release including doctored images of deformed fish with claims they were linked to Fukushima.Japan has sought to counter online misinformation as well as win over sceptics at home and abroad, with everything from study tours of Fukushima to livestreams of fish living in the wastewater.This outreach, backed by the IAEA, has spread to Pacific islands, where Western nations conducted nuclear weapons tests in the 20th century.Fiji's Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Mark Brown, premier of the Cook Islands -- which IAEA chief Rafael Grossi visited in July -- on Tuesday voiced their support for the agency's findings."This is not a decision taken lightly, as I will never support unsafe and dangerous nuclear dumping," Brown said in a statement on Wednesday."I believe that the discharge meets international safety standards."
Hong Kong will ban "aquatic products" from 10 Japanese prefectures, a government minister said Tuesday, after city leader John Lee condemned Tokyo's plans to release water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.Japan has said the gradual release into the sea of more than 500 Olympic swimming pools' worth of water -- 12 years after the Fukushima disaster -- is safe, a view backed by the UN atomic agency.But the decision has incited massive pushback from neighbouring South Korea and China, as well as finance hub Hong Kong -- the second-largest receiver of food products from Japan after mainland China."The (Hong Kong) government will ban the imports of all aquatic products from 10 prefectures of Japan from the 24th of August," Tse Chin-wan, Hong Kong's Secretary for Environment and Ecology, said during a press conference.The products include "all live, frozen, chilled, dried or otherwise preserved aquatic products, sea salt and raw or processed seaweeds".Tse also said there was no timeline for how long the ban would be in place, as it would depend on "how well the Japanese government's supervising system works".Japanese food is extremely popular in Hong Kong, home to groceries specialising in imported seafood products as well as upscale omakase restaurants.Tuesday's decision came the same day the Japanese government announced it would start discharging the water, with city leader John Lee taking Tokyo to task for deciding "on its own"."It disregards the risks to food safety and the irreversible pollution and damage to the ocean ecology, and is an irresponsible way of pushing one's problems onto others," Lee said in a Facebook post earlier on Tuesday."I express my strong objections," he added, calling on relevant agencies to "immediately activate" import control measures.The 10 prefectures named were Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano and Saitama.Last month, China's General Administration of Customs threatened a blanket ban on all foodstuffs from the same 10 prefectures.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin renewed Beijing's objections on Tuesday, saying it would take "necessary measures to safeguard the marine environment, food safety and public health".In releasing the water, Wang said, Japan "is openly... putting its own self-interest over the long-term well-being of all humankind".Japan's diplomatic representatives in Hong Kong have opposed the import curbs and have met with Lee and senior government officials in recent weeks.
Hunters in Japan's remote north have killed an elusive and infamous brown bear nicknamed "Ninja" that attacked at least 66 cows, officials said Tuesday.The exploits of "OSO18", as the bear was named, attracted considerable news coverage including dramatic television documentaries.The animal is believed to have started attacking livestock in 2019 in eastern areas of Hokkaido, Japan's sparsely populated main northern island.Its habit of not eating the dairy cows that it attacked -- only half of its 66 victims died -- confused experts, and it eluded years of efforts to capture or kill it.Late last month, the bear was shot dead."A brown bear was hunted on July 30, and various analyses, including DNA testing, resulted in a confirmation that it was OSO18," Tadayoshi Takeda, an official with the Hokkaido regional government, told AFP on Tuesday."I am sure local residents are relieved to hear this news," he said.Brown bears in Japan only live in Hokkaido where their population is estimated at almost 12,000 but growing, causing increasing problems as they come into contact with humans.In 2021 four people were killed in incidents involving bears and 10 were injured -- a record number.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan will start releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea on Thursday, weather conditions permitting, despite concerns among local fishermen and persistent opposition from China.The controversial decision was made at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday morning, as a significant amount of the water has accumulated at the site since the 2011 nuclear accident triggered by a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami, according to Japan's News Agency (KYODO).In April 2021, Kishida's predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, gave his approval for the release of the water into the Pacific Ocean "in around two years."The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded in July that Japan's plan aligns with global safety standards and would have a "negligible radiological impact on people and the environment," prompting the government to proceed with the water discharge.The Fukushima plant has stored more than 1.3 million tons of water through a custom purification system known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, since three reactors melted down after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast in March 2011.
Japanese premier Fumio Kishida said Sunday his government has not yet decided when to begin releasing treated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.Media reports suggest that the discharge of some of the 1.34 million tonnes of water, which Japan insists is safe, could begin as soon as this month, despite anger from China and concern elsewhere.Speaking at the Fukushima site, wrecked by a tsunami in 2011 in one of the world's worst atomic accidents, Kishida said he would first meet fishing industry officials to discuss their concerns."I must refrain from commenting on a concrete timing of the release into the ocean at this point, as the decision has to be made after the government as a whole looks at measures to do with safety and reputational damage (for the fishing industry)," Kishida told reporters."I hope to meet with fishermen, led by chairman (Masanobu) Sakamoto of Japan's fisheries cooperative federation, as early as tomorrow," the prime minister said.Many Japanese fishermen are against the release, fearing that it will undo years of efforts to improve the industry's image in the wake of the 2011 catastrophe.The water, equivalent to more than 500 Olympic swimming pools, has accumulated in the past 12 years from water used to cool three melted-down reactors combined with groundwater and rain.Plant operator TEPCO says that dangerous radioactive elements have been filtered out and that the water it plans to release is safe, a view backed by the UN atomic agency.Japan has spent months trying to win over public opinion at home and abroad, with everything from livestreaming fish living in the treated water to efforts to counter online disinformation.Public concern about the plan remains high in South Korea but its government said its review of the plan found it in line with international standards.But China, which has frosty relations with Japan, has banned food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures and has imposed stringent radiation tests on food from the rest of the country.The release of the treated water -- a maximum of 500,000 litres per day, TEPCO says -- is just one stage of the clean-up.The far more dangerous task remains of removing radioactive debris and highly dangerous nuclear fuel from the three reactors that went into meltdown.
Tokyo shares closed lower Wednesday on worries over the Chinese economy, with falls on US markets also affecting sentiment.The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up 1.46 percent, or 472.07 points, to 31,766.82, while the broader Topix index fell 1.29 percent, or 29.47 points, to 2,260.84.The dollar stood at 145.48 yen, nearly flat from 145.57 yen in New York."Shares related to energy, natural resources, banking, trading houses and steelmaking are among losers today," said Chihiro Ota of SMBC Nikko Securities."In other words, once investors view the Chinese economy with suspicion, markets for commodities and natural resources sour," Ota said.Among worries are the financial troubles of a major Chinese property developer as well as Chinese trust firms missing payments on their products.Stronger-than-expected US retail data has also rekindled speculation about US rate hikes, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management wrote in a note."While a healthy consumer is often perceived as a good thing by markets," Innes wrote, "the surprising retail strength could raise questions about how far along the Fed is in its fight against inflation, as such high demand might suggest there is still room to go on the rates front."In the Tokyo market, banking shares faced selling as uncertainty over the US financial sector drove down banking stocks on Wall Street.Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 2.91 percent to 1,088.5 yen. Its rival Mizuho Financial Group lost 2.12 percent to 2,262 yen while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell 1.56 percent to 6,301 yen.Nippon Steel slipped 2.60 percent to 3,320 yen. Energy developer INPEX lost 2.25 percent to 1,979.5 yen.Top trading house Mitsubishi Corp. shed 3.19 percent to 6,941 yen.Heavily weighted Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo brand, retreated 1.87 percent to 33,520 yen. High-tech investor SoftBank Group gave up 3.13 percent to 6,466 yen.