Japanese Prime Minister Kan Resigns as Party Leader
- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, amid growing complaints about his performance. He came to office in June 2010. During his term, he had made unpopular moves, including an early pledge for a tax increase and handling a diplomatic issue with China in September. Most recently, Kan has been criticized about his response to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant accident. His departure paves the way for Japan’s sixth leader in five years.
- Work continues on construction of a cover for the damaged unit 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Initial preparations began in May, and construction of the steel frame started earlier this month. Reference 2 of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s updated roadmap to recovery at the facility, released Aug. 17, includes several graphics showing progress on the installation and an image of what it will look like when completed. See pages 18 and 19.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Japanese government unveiled a plan to reduce radiation levels in Fukushima prefecture in two years. The central government is responsible for cleaning up areas where annual exposures could exceed 2 rem. Local authorities and community groups will play a key role in cleaning up less contaminated areas.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting at 1 p.m. Aug. 31 to hear comments on the recommendations of the agency’s near-term Japan task force. According to the meeting’s agenda, the staff will propose which of the task force recommendations the commission should act on without “unnecessary delay.”