Head of nuclear watchdog offers help to Japan after accident
The head of the international nuclear watchdog on Tuesday offered expertise on decontamination and extraction of spent fuel rods to Japan as it tries to stabilize a damaged nuclear plant.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said after meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan that the premier told him Japan needs a public discussion about energy policy in the wake of the nation's worst nuclear accident after Kan stressed recently the nation should phase out atomic power, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 250 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, has leaked radioactive substances since it was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Amano said Kan told him Japan wants to "continue fully cooperating with the IAEA."
The meeting came a day after Amano visited the damaged, six-reactor plant for the first time.
Amano put on a protective suit and was briefed by Masao Yoshida, chief of the plant, run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The IAEA chief also visited employees and soldiers working to bring the plant under control.
Amano said his visit gave him reason to be optimistic because those at the plant devoted themselves to their work.
The former Japanese diplomat was also expected to meet with Industry Minister Banri Kaieda and Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear accident, during his week-long stay in Japan.
The trip followed an IAEA conference in June on the safety lessons to be learned from Fukushima, at which Amano was tasked with an action plan on how to improve global safety standards and oversight.