Asia-Pacific

Japan PM Naoto Kan makes pledge to tsunami survivors

Naoto Kan walks through ruins during a visit to a fishing port in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture April 10, 2011
Image caption Naoto Kan tried to reassure locals that the fishing industry will resume

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told survivors of last month's devastating tsunami that his government will never abandon them.

Mr Kan, on a tour of areas wrecked by the disaster, promised to do everything possible to help the communities.

Japan is set to mark a month since the disaster with local meetings, but there are no national events planned.

The tsunami, triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, killed thousands and left many more homeless.

Some villages on the north-east coast of Honshu island were largely destroyed.

The disaster also severely damaged a nuclear plant, which is still causing huge problems for the authorities.

Radioactive water

Mr Kan told survivors in the city of Ishinomaki: "The government will give all its strength to work with you. We will never abandon you."

He said the government would "work as fast as possible" to house 150,000 people still living in emergency shelters - some 17,000 of them in Ishinomaki.

The prime minister also tried to reassure survivors that the fishing industry - which many in the area rely on for their livelihoods - would resume as soon as possible.

The tsunami wrecked boats and piers, closing down large-scale fishing operations.

The damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has also hit the fishing industry, as the public and international buyers ditch Japanese food products over fears of contamination.

The authorities have been releasing radioactive water into the sea from the plant in recent days - the latest in a series of moves to manage the facility's demise.

Workers at the plant are set to stop releasing the water within hours, and will begin transferring highly radioactive water to a sealed area within the plant.

The release of the water angered fishing communities and drew criticism from Russia, China and South Korea.

Mr Kan apologised for not releasing more information on the operation.

Meanwhile, several thousand people in Tokyo staged a demonstration against nuclear power on Sunday.

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