It has been credibly acknowledged for the first time that the continuing nuclear radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power station in Japan is “partially a man-made disaster”.

A top executive of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which owns the power plant and is responsible for crisis-management, made the acknowledgment during the weekend. Tepco Vice-President Norio Tsuzumi was talking to some of the newly-affected villagers in the Fukushima prefecture. Local authorities recently advised these villagers to evacuate to safer places by the end of May in view of the unabated emissions of radioactive substances from the unstable Daiichi plant.

Thousands of residents in a 20-km area around the plant were evacuated shortly after it was knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr. Tsuzumi said “some say the nuclear accident at Fukushima was beyond any expectations” about the intensity of earthquakes or tsunamis.

However, “I think adequate safety precautions should have been in place” to meet the March 11 accident that was caused by natural disasters.

These comments acquire much resonance in the debate over the radiation crisis. Until now, Tepco executives had apologised to the victims without being so explicit on the man-made aspect.

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