France and Japan united in defence of nuclear power

The leaders of Japan and France strongly defended the use of nuclear power yesterday, despite fresh reports that the crippled Fukushima plant is spewing growing quantities of radiation, with the United Nations suggesting expanding the evacuation zone.

Japan's nuclear safety agency revealed yesterday that radioactive iodine in seawater about 300m off shore from the complex has been clocked at 4,385-times the legal standard, while the plant operator has measured contamination in groundwater underneath one reactor at 10,000 times the government health standard.

Radiation experts are viewing the figures with increasing alarm, but Nicolas Sarkozy, on a trip to Tokyo, said there is no viable alternative to nuclear power. "Everyone is trying to cut CO2," said the French President, standing beside Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

"The advanced countries don't have much choice right now."

An exhausted-looking Mr Kan said Japan would continue to use nuclear power but would work for higher global standards. "The situation is not under control yet but when it is we must inspect all nuclear plants and think about how to make them safer."

Mr Sarkozy's visit, the first by a head of state since Japan's earthquake and tsunami, has been overshadowed by the twin disaster which has left 27,500 people dead or missing and the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The UN's nuclear watchdog yesterday asked Japan to "carefully assess" its 30km exclusion zone around the complex after it found radiation levels twice its recommended level about 40km away.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency found iodine-131 and cesium-137 in soil in the village of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture, which has not been evacuated. IEAE officials visited Iitate this week, briefing the village head Norio Konno. A spokesman for the village said they are waiting to hear from the government: "We can't move till we do. But of course our citizens are worried."

Japan's top government spokesman Yukio Edano said it accepted that radiation levels are "higher than recommended" but said there are no plans yet to widen the exclusion zone. "We are closely watching the possibility of long-term cumulative effects of the contamination. If the situation continues there could be health risks, and we will take necessary measures."

Japan has 55 operational reactors, with another 11 in construction or planned, including the world's largest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Application Support Engineer - Software

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small rapidly expanding IT So...

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

£23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada