Japan declares 20 km no-go zone around Fukushima n-plant

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the Fukushima prefecture as the government Thursday declared the 20-km evacuation area around the crippled nuclear power plant as a no-go zone, Japan Today reported.

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The authorities officially banned all unauthorised entry to areas within a 20-km radius of the plant, starting from midnight local time.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the move was aimed at preventing radiation exposure and looting.

Until Thursday, police could not legally deny entry to evacuees, who returned to their homes after the evacuation announcement March 12.

Japanese officials plan to organise short trips for residents willing to collect their belongings in the near future.

Despite growing concern of radioactive fallout in Russia’s Far East, the Russian emergencies ministry said that radiation levels in region remained within the norm and ranged from 11 to 19 micro roentgen per hour Thursday.

Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant was seriously damaged by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami that hit the island’s northeast coast March 11.

Fukushima’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has since been struggling to stop radioactive leaks from the plant’s crippled reactors.

Almost 80,000 people living within the evacuation zone were forced to flee their homes.