IAEA chief arrives in Japan to visit damaged nuclear plant

IAEA chief arrives in Japan to visit damaged nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano arrived in Japan Sunday for a week-long stay, during which he will visit the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for the first time, DPA reported.

"I'd like to put on a protective suit and go into (the inside of the plant) as far as I can," Amano told reporters on his arrival at Narita Airport near Tokyo, the Kyodo News Agency reported.

"I'd like to talk with people working there," he added.

Workers have been struggling to stabilize the damaged plant since it was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11. It has leaked radioactivity into the environment ever since.

The former Japanese diplomat is scheduled to visit the plant on Monday and is expected to meet with Masao Yoshida, chief of the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

Amano's visit comes soon after the completion of the first phase of the operator's roadmap to bring the disaster under control.

The Japanese government said Tuesday TEPCO had restored stable cooling to its crippled reactors as scheduled in mid-April.

The next phase would be to achieve an overall stable condition called "cold shutdown", the government said. TEPCO hopes this phase will be completed by January.

During his stay, Amano is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda.

Amano's aim is not only to get a first-hand impression of the disaster site, but also to promote nuclear safety around the globe, a diplomat close to the IAEA said.

The trip follows an IAEA conference in June on the safety lessons to be learnt from Fukushima, at which Amano was tasked with an action plan on how to improve global safety standards and oversight mechanisms.

"The international community strongly hopes to learn from Japan's experience. I'd like to ask Japan to make it possible to share the experience," Amano said.

Amano will also attend the 23rd United Nations Conference on Disarmament to be held in Matsumoto, central Japan, from Wednesday. dpa tk rpm Author: Takehiko Kambayashi

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