Japan to Decide on Food Restrictions


(Tokyo, Japan) - Japan chief cabinet secretary says government will decide on Monday whether to restrict food products from quake zone, and efforts to cool reactors are showing some results.

Japan restored power to a crippled nuclear reactor on Sunday (March 20) in its race to avert disaster at a plant wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands.

Three hundred engineers have been struggling inside the danger zone to salvage the six-reactor Fukushima plant in the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

"On the whole, our last ditch efforts to prevent the worsening of the situation seems to be showing some effect. However, we are not in a position to be able to say anything," said Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

The workers, braving high radiation levels in suits sealed in duct tape, managed to connect power to the No. 2 reactor, crucial to their attempts to cool it down and limit the leak of deadly radiation, Kyodo news agency said.

It added that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) aimed to restore the control room function, lights and the cooling at the No. 1 reactor, which is connected to the No.2 reactor by cable.

But cases of contaminated vegetables, dust and water have raised new fears, and the government said it will decide by Monday (March 21) on whether to restrict consumption and shipments of food from the quake and nuclear zone.

Edano said traces of radiation were found in spinach in Ibaraki prefecture, and radiation levels were higher than allowable levels in four areas in Fukushima prefecture, which produces milk.

"We will continue investigating the situation and analysing a wider research scale, we will decide by tommorrow whether we need a consumption restrictions in a specific region or whether we need a food produce output restriction," Edano said.

Police said they believed more than 15,000 people had been killed by the double disaster in Miyagi prefecture, one of four in Japan's northeast that took the brunt of the tsunami damage. In total, more than 20,000 are dead or missing, police said.

The unprecedented crisis will cost the world's third largest economy as much as $248 billion and require Japan's biggest reconstruction push since post-World War Two.

It has also set back nuclear power plans the world over.

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