Japan PM calls for quicker tsunami waste processing
As the country marked the first anniversary of the tragedy, Yoshihiko Noda urged people to pitch in to help dispose of the rubble.
Sun, Mar 11 2012 at 9:29 AM
TSUNAMI: The monster tsunami crushed whole communities along Japan's northeast coast, leaving behind 22.5 million tons of debris, including splintered houses and wrecked cars, most of which remains piled up in the region. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
The whole of Japan must redouble efforts to help rid tsunami-hit communities of the millions of tons of waste generated by last year's disaster, the prime minister said Sunday.
As the country marked the first anniversary of the tragedy that claimed more than 19,000 lives, Yoshihiko Noda urged areas outside of the disaster zone to pitch in to help dispose of the rubble.
"Today is a day of mourning as well as a day to renew our resolve to rebuild," he told a press conference just hours after the country observed a minute's silence at the exact moment the tsunami-causing quake struck last year.
"I urge the entire public to recognise that we are all directly involved in reconstruction."
The monster tsunami crushed whole communities along Japan's northeast coast, leaving behind 22.5 million tons of debris, including splintered houses and wrecked cars, most of which remains piled up in the region.
Only a handful of municipalities outside the disaster zone have offered to help process the debris, amid stiff public opposition from residents who fear it could be contaminated by radiation.
The tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sending reactors into meltdown and shooting toxic isotopes into the atmosphere.
The government insists debris in Iwate and Miyagi, north of Fukushima, is virtually radiation free and does not pose a risk to human health when incinerated or processed.
"The world lavished praise on the spirit of the Japanese for helping one another in the aftermath of the disaster," Noda said.
"That Japanese psyche is being tested again. The processing of debris is a symbol of that."
Tokyo has offered to largely offset any costs local governments incur in accepting the waste.
Noda said he will be asking private companies, such as cement and paper producers, to help out with the task.
Copyright 2012 AFP Asian Edition
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