France urges world nuclear review after Japan crisis

Updated: 2011-04-01 08:22

(China Daily)

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TOKYO - French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Thursday for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of the year during the first visit by a foreign leader to Japan since the earthquake and tsunami that triggered its atomic disaster.

France urges world nuclear review after Japan crisis
Nagashima Rio, who was born on March 15, is tested for possible nuclear radiation at an evacuation center in Koriayama, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, located about 70 km from the tsunami and earthquake-crippled nuclear reactor, on Thursday. [Photo/Agencies]

The G20 chairman Sarkozy said France wants to host a meeting of the bloc's nuclear officials in May to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan supported the idea.

"In order to avoid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience," he said at a joint news conference.

The world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 is proving hard to contain and has forced an international rethink of the benefits and safety of nuclear power. It has also compounded an agonizing moment for the Asian nation after the quake and tsunami left more than 27,500 people dead or missing and caused damage that may top $300 billion.

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Data on the economic impact of the March 11 disasters showed manufacturing slumped the most on record this month as factories shut and supply chains were disrupted, especially in the car and technology sectors for which Japan is renowned.

Japan said on Thursday its stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will have to be scrapped, while pressure also grew for the evacuation zone around the crippled facility to be expanded.

With no end in sight to the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the US ordered a marine emergency response unit to Japan, and French nuclear group Areva said it was likely to step up assistance to the plant's operator.

Naoto Kan said the facility at the center of the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986 must be decommissioned, Kyodo news reported.

Officials have previously hinted the plant would be retired once the situation there is stabilized, given the severe damage it has sustained including likely partial meltdowns and a series of hydrogen blasts.

But there were no plans to widen a 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant despite the UN atomic watchdog saying radiation in one village 40 km away had reached evacuation levels.


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