U.N. Secretary-General Calls For Countries To Assess Global Nuclear Safety In Light Of Japan Reactor Crisis

In light of the situation in Japan “where an earthquake and tsunami crippled an aging atomic power station,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday said international nuclear safety standards should be reassessed, Reuters reports.

“The situation in Japan has … given rise to calls to reassess the international emergency response framework and the nuclear safety regime,” Ban said in a statement. “I support these calls,” he added. The call came “after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan made his first public statement on the crisis in a week, saying the situation at the Fukushima nuclear complex north of Tokyo was ‘nowhere near’ being resolved,” the news service reports.

The U.N. held a high-level meeting on Friday to examine the international response to developments at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Ban said countries should “ensure that the highest possible standards are implemented to safeguard health, food supply and the environment as well as reviewing the disaster risk reduction framework” (Charbonneau, 3/25).

“Leaked water sampled from one unit [at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant] Sunday had 100,000 times the radioactivity of normal background levels,” the Washington Post reports. “Japanese authorities say efforts to control Fukushima’s overheated reactors will take months and during that time radiation will continue to leak into the environment, extending a nuclear emergency that already ranks as the world’s most serious in a quarter-century,” according to the newspaper. Workers continue to attempt to stabilize the reactor to prevent overheating and further radiation leakage (Harlan/Vastag, 3/28).

AP Looks At American Military’s Humanitarian Operation In Japan

The Associated Press examines the reception for the U.S. military’s aid work in Japan, which is putting “a new and welcome face for troops the Japanese have hosted – sometimes grudgingly – for decades.”

“Roughly 20,000 U.S. troops have been mobilized in ‘Operation Tomodachi,’ or ‘Friend.’ It is the biggest bilateral humanitarian mission the U.S. has conducted in Japan, its most important ally in Asia, and it is ramping up fast,” the AP notes. “As logistics gradually improve, U.S. troops have been moving farther into hard-hit zones and providing tons of relief supplies and badly needed manpower,” the news service reports. Though the “Japanese public is very pro-America and generally sees the military presence as a benefit,” the perception of the American military “is complicated by a strong pacifist undercurrent in public opinion borne from World War II,” according to the news service (Talmadge, 3/26).

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