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Japan appeals for foreign help to stop leaks at crippled nuclear plant


Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, has appealed for overseas help to contain the ever-increasing leaks of radioactive water at the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima.

“We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem,” Mr Abe said in his speech to open the conference on energy and environment in Kyoto yesterday. “My country needs your knowledge and expertise,” he said. Despite Mr Abe’s reassurances to the International Olympic Committee last month that the leaks were “under control”, many Japanese believe he was glossing over problems at the plant.

Mr Abe did not say whether he still thinks the leaks are under control, nor did he give any specifics about foreign participation.

His comments come days after the plant’s operator acknowledged that highly contaminated water spilled from a storage tank as workers tried to fill it to the top.

Officials have acknowledged that contaminated groundwater has been seeping into the Pacific since shortly after reactors at the plant went into meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Recent leaks from storage tanks have added to public concerns.

Japan had been criticised for its perceived reluctance to accept foreign help to stop the leaks, which are hampering decommissioning work expected to last decades. It recently set up an expert body, with advisers from France, Britain and Russia, to develop the technologies needed to dismantle the plant.