TOKYO – Preventing fear and concern over the Fukushima disaster from negatively impacting foreign tourist arrivals during the 2020 Olympics is among Japan’s current priorities, representatives of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Tokyo Electric Power Company said at a press conference on Thursday.
Fukushima Daiichi officials said there has been steady progress with respect to decontamination of the nuclear installations, control of radioactive spillage, and preparatory work for the plant’s future dismantling.
Over the last six years, authorities have been able to stabilize the situation, said Satonu Toyomoto, ministry supervisor of the dismantling process, adding they are working to improve the situation so that tourists are not affected.
TEPCO decommissioning head Naohiro Masuda said radiation levels inside as well as around the plant continue to be stable, and will thus pose no threat to residents or the environment.
However, he added that one of the challenges for TEPCO is to safeguard the health of its 5,850 personnel, who have been working daily to decontaminate and dismantle the plant, a process that is expected to take 30 to 40 years to complete.
According to Masuda, cleaning and paving work inside the plant has led to the recovery of most of the radioactive particles, owing to which the radiation levels that workers are exposed to are now much lower.
He also lauded the initiative to study the reactors’ interiors using robots, which has helped determine, for the first time, the radiation levels inside.
The Fukushima incident is considered the worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.
The resulting radioactive leaks have prevented the return of thousands of local people to their homes, besides causing serious damage to local agriculture, fishing and cattle-raising activities.