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Fukushima operator aims to double visitors by Tokyo Olympics via The Citizen

Fukushima’s nuclear power operator is hoping to double the number of visitors to its tsunami-ravaged facilities by 2020, seeking to use the Olympic spotlight to clean up the region’s image.

A massive undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sparking the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Initially, visitors to Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant were strictly limited to a handful of nuclear experts, lawmakers, government officials and selected media.

Visitor numbers have gradually increased as levels of radiation in most of the compound have dropped low enough to allow workers to operate without special protective equipment.


The number of visitors for the fiscal year to March last year rose to around 10,000 — a figure the operator aims to double to 20,000 in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games, said Takahiro Kimoto, a TEPCO official.

“Our objective is not to send a message saying ‘It’s safe. It’s secure’,” Kimoto told AFP.

“It is more important for us to have people watch what’s really going on… without a prejudiced eye,” he said.


Decontamination work is under way inside the plant, with thousands of workers enjoying hot meals, taking showers and buying sweets at a convenience store.

However, levels of radiation in areas around the three melted-down reactors remain extremely high, hampering the plant’s decommissioning process, which is expected to take decades.

The scars of the catastrophe remain visible — steel frames are gnarled and walls are missing, ripped off by the tsunami and hydrogen explosions.


“We have to lower radiation exposure to workers, but this prevents them from working for a long time up there,” Hirose said.

“We want them to work under strictly controlled exposure plans. That’s the big difference from working conditions at ordinary sites,” he said.

The total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation are estimated to reach 21.5 trillion yen ($194 billion) and TEPCO aims to dismantle the plant in three to four decades.

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  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says

    I am highly disturbed by the statements quoted here:

    “Our objective is not to send a message saying ‘It’s safe. It’s secure’,” Kimoto told AFP. “It is more important for us to have people watch what’s really going on… without a prejudiced eye,” he said.

    Even though they were not explicitly promoting the safety and security of the crippled facility, if they invite people to come to “watch what’s really going on,” the message is clear, isn’t it? –it is “safe” and “secure” enough to have people come over…?

    And perhaps it is even worse that they are not making an explicit statement that it is safe and secure, so that any “unforeseeable” harms will be visitors’ responsibility!

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