Japan's Food, Water Safe Despite Radioactive Water Leak At Fukushima: Govt.

With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selecting Tokyo as the venue for the 2020 Olympic games, the Japanese government says the country's water and food are safe despite leaks of radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant northeast of the Japanese capital.

Addressing Governors from the U.S. Midwest states, and Japanese and American corporate executives in Tokyo on Monday, Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the Japanese government had taken the contaminated water leak as its most urgent issue and deal with the problem directly by spending about $470 million, Japanese media reported.

Motegi said the leak was now confined within 0.3 square kilometers in the bay off the nuclear plant owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Radiation levels in water outside the area are lower than the upper limit guidelines for drinking water defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), he claimed.

The Minister said Japan's water and food are safe as they follow one of the world's most stringent food safety standards following the 2011 nuclear accident in which four of the six reactors at the plant suffered meltdown sending out massive radiation. More than 165,000 residents were evacuated from a 30-kilometer radius of the stricken plant after the accident, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Japanese prosecutors decided not to indict former Tepco executives and government officials for their handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Fukushima residents and others have filed criminal complaints against both Tepco and more than 40 officials, including the company's former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan alleging failure on their part to take sufficient measures to prepare for the tsunami and deal with the ensuing disaster.

The prosecutors said that Tepco, its former executives and the other people concerned could not be held criminally responsible. They could not predict the real dangers of such a massive earthquake and tsunami, and that they were not obliged to take preventive measures.

The residents now plan to take the issue to a prosecution inquest panel made up of randomly-selected citizens. They say the nuclear disaster exposed a large number of people to radiation, and some hospital patients died while fleeing areas around the power plant just after the accident.

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