Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday that Tokyo is open to receiving overseas help to contain radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, with leaks and mishaps being reported regularly.
Abe made the comments in a speech at an international science forum in Kyoto.
“We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem,” Abe said in English in his speech to open the conference on energy and the environment. “My country needs your knowledge and expertise.”
Despite Abe’s reassurances to the International Olympic Committee last month that the leaks were “under control,” many Japanese believe he was glossing over problems at the plant.
Abe did not say whether he still thinks the leaks are under control nor did he give any specifics about foreign participation.
His comments come just days after the plant’s operator acknowledged that highly contaminated water spilled from a storage tank after workers tried to fill it to the top.
Officials have acknowledged that the groundwater contaminated with radioactive leaks has been seeping into the Pacific Ocean since soon after meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Recent leaks from storage tanks have added to public concerns.
Japan has been criticized for its perceived reluctance in accepting foreign assistance to solve the problems at the plant, where the ongoing water leaks are hampering decommissioning work that is expected to last decades.
Japan recently set up an organization among major utilities and nuclear experts to discuss the decommissioning, including several advisers from countries such as France, Britain and Russia.
The industry and trade ministry last month started accepting project proposals from private companies and groups to tackle the contaminated water problem. An English version of the invitation for proposals was added only after criticisms that the Japanese-only notice signaled an exclusion of foreign participation.