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Japan quake impact stronger than expected: IMF
by Staff Writers
Sao Paulo (AFP) June 17, 2011

The impact from Japan's March earthquake was stronger than expected and has led the IMF to revise its economic outlook to predict negative growth there this year, the Fund said Friday.

"The disruptions from the earthquake have been stronger than anticipated," research director Olivier Blanchard said in Sao Paulo as he presented the group's latest report on the world economic outlook.

He added, however, that "we expect these problems to go away during the year" and said Japan's economy would likely rebound in 2012.

The International Monetary Fund report said the March 11 earthquake, which triggered a tsunami and a near-meltdown at a Japanese nuclear energy plant, was one of the key "negative surprises" for the global forecast.

It noted that industry was affected by disrupted supply chains and that consumer sentiment in Japan took a dive.

It forecast Japan to post growth of -0.7 percent this year, a sharp decline from the 4.0 percent registered last year. But it forecast that growth would bounce back to 2.9 percent in 2012.

earlier related report
Nuclear watchdog slams Japan reaction to Fukushima
Vienna (AFP) June 18, 2011 - The UN's atomic watchdog on Saturday criticised Japan for failing to implement the agency's convention on dealing with nuclear emergencies after the accident at its Fukushima power plant.

A report to be published Monday at a five-day ministerial conference on nuclear safety said Tokyo should have followed guidelines laid down by the document after the plant was crippled by a tsunami following an earthquake.

The convention lays down the rules for cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and states that may need help, in the areas of security and communication.

The report, which was seen by AFP and drawn up by experts who visited Japan last month, said Tokyo never implemented the convention.

Japan also did not follow IAEA guidelines about tiered safety measures against outside threats, it said.

IAEA safety standards are not binding for member states.

The agency said that Japanese authorities had also failed to implement anti-tsunami measures that were tightened in 2002.

The agency said earlier this month that Japan underestimated the hazard posed by tsunamis to nuclear plants, but praised Tokyo's response to the March 11 disaster as "exemplary".

The experts' final report will be made available to the IAEA's 151 member states during the ministerial conference which starts Monday.

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Quake-hit N.Z. cathedrals face wrecking ball
Wellington (AFP) June 16, 2011
Christchurch's Anglican and Catholic cathedrals may have to be demolished after sustaining further damage in the latest earthquake to rock the New Zealand city, church officials said Thursday. The 130-year-old Anglican cathedral's huge stained glass Rose Window shattered in a 6.0-tremor that struck Monday, compounding damage from a 6.3-magnitude quake in February that killed 181 people and t ... read more

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