by Staff Writers
Fukushima, Japan (AFP) Aug 8, 2011
UN chief Ban Ki-moon will visit the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone Monday, becoming one of the most senior foreign leaders to go near the crippled atomic power plant in Japan's northeast.
The United Nations secretary-general is scheduled to stand on tsunami-ravaged Haragama beach in Soma city, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which continues to spew radioactive material.
A 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the battered facility prevents him going much nearer after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 triggered the catastrophe.
Ban, who arrived in Japan Sunday, will also speak to high school students and visit a shelter to meet some of the 85,000 people who have been evacuated after what has become the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
Five months on from the disaster, the Japanese government and operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) are struggling to stabilise three reactors at the power plant that have melted down.
The government wants to bring the overheating reactors to stable "cold shutdown" by January.
But lethal hotspots were detected inside the crippled plant last week with radiation so high that it may risk preventing emergency workers from making progress in the effort to control the crisis.
TEPCO has also faced a series of technical glitches with a system to decontaminate radioactive runoff water used to cool the reactors.
Later in the day, Ban will travel to Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto.
Ban, who has convened a nuclear safety summit for the UN General Assembly in New York in September, is expected to reinforce his calls for tougher international standards.
The UN chief is also expected to request Japan's Self-Defence Forces be dispatched for a peacekeeping operation in South Sudan.
Ban came to Japan as part of an Asian tour which will also take him to his native South Korea on Tuesday to launch a UN youth conference, the Global Model United Nations, in Incheon.
He will also address an academic forum in Seoul and meet President Lee Myung-Bak and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan during his five-day stay there.
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UN chief heads to Japan as nuclear crisis simmers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 7, 2011
UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrives in Japan on Sunday, where he plans to visit the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone, as the crippled atomic power plant simmers and a food safety scare deepens. The secretary-general will visit hard-hit Fukushima prefecture on Sunday evening as one of the most senior foreign leaders to go to the area after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 triggered ... read more
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