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Special> Earthquake in Japan> Latest News
UPDATED: March 23, 2011
Power Reconnected to Japan's Nuke Reactors

Power has been reconnected to all the six reactors at Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the lighting in the control room for the No. 3 reactor was restored on Tuesday, making it possible for more intensive work to restore the reactors' key cooling functions.

Situation easing

The No. 3 reactor was the last among six reactors to be connected to an external power supply, following the No. 4 reactor, which was connected in the morning.

The reactors being set to receive power from independent sources is a critical first step towards the reactors' cooling systems working autonomously, according to the plant's operator known as TEPCO.

Efforts to cool down spent fuel pools also resumed Tuesday afternoon and firefighters sprayed tons of water onto the spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 3 reactor.

The spokesman of the government's nuclear safety agency, Hidehiko Nishiyama, told a press conference in the afternoon that it is unlikely that the situation would worsen and develop into a critical "meltdown."

The Tokyo Electric has been battling to get the six reactors at the plant back online following the March 11 magnitude 9.0 mega quake and tsunami that knocked out the plant's critical cooling systems and led to partial meltdowns of some of the reactors' cores.

The nuclear crisis in Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant "is the first time a nuclear crisis was triggered by an earthquake," according to L.S. Chan, professor of science of Hong Kong University.

Public concerned over food contamination

In the meantime, the public is concerned over radiation contamination of food and water. The Japanese government has already ordered a ban on spinach, canola and raw milk from the prefectures around Fukushima.

Seawater off the nuclear plant is showing elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised on Tuesday that he will ensure maximum transparency in providing information about the state of the unfolding nuclear crisis triggered by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

The quake and tsunami has left nearly 9,100 dead and almost 13, 800 missing, Japan's National Police Agency said on Tuesday.

The death toll reached 9,099 in 12 prefectures, while the number of missing came to 13,786 in six prefectures as of 9 p.m., according to the agency.

The World Bank said in a report on Monday that Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami would cause up to $235 billion in damage and a temporary impact on the economic growth of Japan.

Measures taken to stabilize financial market after quake

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Tuesday flooded the money market with $24.7 billion in order to ensure interest rates don't spike and regional banks and other institutions can continue to lend to each other in areas affected by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Tuesday's injection of funds marks the sixth straight operating day that Japan's central bank has pumped funds into the market with the total amount of same-day liquidity totaling $492.6 billion.

Financial markets plunged after the quake and ensuing tsunami that caused crippling problems at a nuclear power plant in northeast Japan and the BOJ's unprecedented moves are aimed at providing enough funds for local banks and institutions to lend to each other in quake-hit regions.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Stocks closed sharply higher Tuesday, with the key Nikkei stock index climbing 4.36 percent as receding fears about a nuclear crisis in northeast Japan gave way to hopes for rebuilding in the wake of the quake and tsunami and saw investors return to riskier assets.

The yen remained relatively low versus its major counterparts, following rising to a record high last Thursday, which lead to the Group of Seven industrialized nations intervening in the foreign exchange market to push the U.S. dollar back up over 80 yen.

(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2011)

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