Facing immense political pressure over continuing civil nuclear crisis, the Naoto Kan government on Wednesday ordered a new form of “stress test” to ensure the safety of all atomic energy plants in the country.
The “stress test” has been devised by some European countries by taking into account the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan's Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said in Tokyo the test would “begin as promptly as possible” on the basis of “the European criteria”.
Mr. Kaieda said the test should also “reflect the concerns of Japanese citizens” now affected by the civil nuclear crisis.
He emphasised that the test would apply to all reactors including those under inspection shutdown now.
The government's move came amid reports about the detection of traces of radioactive substances at some places as far away as 40 km from the Daiichi evacuation zone.
On another aspect of political stress, Prime Minister Kan apologised to a parliamentary panel in Tokyo for the conduct of a now-disgraced ministerial colleague who made “highly unpleasant comments” against the victims of the quake and tsunami.
The New Reconstruction Minister hailed from a disaster-hit area, Mr. Kan pointed out.
The Prime Minister indicated he might step aside only after putting in place a legislative mechanism for comprehensive reconstruction. This would include a shift in focus towards renewable energy from the current degree of reliance on civil nuclear energy.