OKUMA, Japan (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted Thursday that radiation-contaminated water has been contained at the country's crippled nuclear power plant and said he would fend off "rumors" regarding Fukushima's safety, as he took a firsthand look at the complex.
After a three-hour plant tour, Abe said he stood by the reassurance about Tokyo's safety that he gave to the International Olympic Committee before the city of 35 million was awarded the right to host the 2020 summer games earlier this month.
"One of the main purposes of this visit was to see it for myself, after I made those remarks on how the contaminated water has been handled," Abe told workers and reporters.
Officials have acknowledged that groundwater contaminated with radioactive leaks has been seeping into the Pacific since soon after meltdowns and explosions crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Abe said he was convinced that all of the contaminated water had been contained.
"In light of that, I will work hard to counter rumors questioning the safety of the Fukushima plant," he said.
During his tour, Abe was shown some of the 1,000 tanks containing radioactive water, water treatment equipment and a chemical dam being installed along the coast — steps meant to contain the water leakage.
Abe said he urged plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to ensure it has enough funding on hand to take care of urgent work. He also spoke with workers.
"First of all, I thank everybody who are doing their best, working under harsh conditions, to resolve this difficult problem of contaminated water leaks," Abe said.
"The future of Japan is on your shoulders. The government will step forward and take concrete measures, so I am counting on you," he said.
Abe also told TEPCO to plan to decommission two more reactors at the plant, in addition to four that already were slated for decommissioning.
Abe's adamant reassurance to the IOC that the leaks are "under control" had backfired at home, as many Japanese believe he was glossing over problems at the plant.
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