A crisis over contaminated water at Japan's stricken nuclear plant worsened on Saturday when the plant's operator said it had detected high radiation levels near storage tanks, a finding that raised the possibility of additional leaks.
The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said it had found the high levels of radiation at four separate spots on the ground, near some of the hundreds of tanks used to store toxic water produced by makeshift efforts to cool the Fukushima Daiichi plant's three damaged reactors. The highest reading was 1,800 millisieverts per hour, or enough to give a lethal dose in about four hours, Tepco said.
The contaminated spots were found as Tepco employees checked the integrity of the tanks after a leak two weeks ago released 300 tons of toxic water into the Pacific. That leak prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to announce that the government would step in at the plant, which was crippled two years ago by a huge earthquake and tsunami, to help get it under control amid rising public fears of a second environmental disaster.
Saturday's discoveries suggested that there may have been other leaks from the tanks, many of which appear to have been shoddily built as Tepco has scrambled to find enough storage space for the contaminated water being produced by the plant. However, Tepco said that it had found no evidence of fallen water levels in nearby tanks, making it unclear how much water, if any, may have leaked out, and whether any reached the Pacific, about 1,500 feet away.
The resignation Monday of Yuko Obuchi, Japan's industry minister, was a heavy blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the cabinet he named last month. And there are concerns in the government and ruling parties that Obuchi is only the first in a string of coming cabinet resignations. (Nikkei)
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto met with the head of an anti-Korean group on Monday as he considers cracking down on hate speech rallies in the western Japan city, but they ended up having a shouting match in which they more or less just insulted each other. (Kyodo)
Osaka Prefectural Police on Friday arrested two male suspects for allegedly dumping a large quantity of adult video (AV) material inside a park in Nishinari Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 17). (Tokyo Reporter)
Empress Michiko celebrated her 80th birthday on Monday. In a statement distributed to media by the Imperial Household Agency, the empress said she hoped the world could find peace ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year. (Japan Today)
The Nagano prefectural government's disaster response headquarters said Thursday it has decided to end its search this year for missing hikers on Mt. Ontake due to the growing risk of secondary accidents. (The Japan News)