- Title: JAPAN: Stocks close 4 percent higher despite radiation fears
- Date: 23rd March 2011
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (RECENT) (REUTERS) FORMER JAPAN VICE FINANCE MINISTER AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF JAPAN CREDIT RATING AGENCY, MAKOTO UTSUMI SITTING ON CHAIR UTSUMI SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) FORMER JAPAN VICE FINANCE MINISTER AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF JAPAN CREDIT RATING AGENCY, MAKOTO UTSUMI SAYING: "This is a broad area with widespread infrastructure damage. I am pretty sure that the extent of damage is 50 percent greater (than the Kobe earthquake) if not double, which I estimate to be at about 15 to 20 trillion yen." TOKYO, JAPAN (MARCH 22, 2011) (REUTERS) TRADERS AT FOREIGN EXCHANGE VARIOUS INDICES RUNNING ON ELECTRIC BOARD MORE OF TRADERS
- Embargoed: 7th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Japan, Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Finance
- Reuters ID: LVAUUHEIXTJYG7BNFF59RWYIU6P
- Story Text: Japan's Nikkei index ended more than 4 percent higher on Tuesday (March 22) on reports of progress to contain radiation leaks at a nuclear reactor crippled by a massive earthquake that has left at least 21,000 people dead and missing.
The main index closed up 401.57 points at 9,608.32 but is still around 7 percent lower than its close on March 11, the day northeastern Japan was struck by a 9.0 magnitude quake and a 10-metre tsunami.
On Tuesday, technicians working inside an evacuation zone around the stricken plant 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo had managed to attach power cables to all six reactors and start a pump at one of them to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods.
But rising smoke and haze from two of the most threatening reactors suggested the battle to avert a disastrous meltdown was far from won, and mounting evidence of radiation in vegetables, water and milk stirred more concerns about the long-term impact.
The yen traded around 81.00 per dollar and it eased against the euro to around 115.20.
Last week, expectations insurance firms and others would repatriate yen to pay for quake reconstruction drove the Japanese currency to an all-time record high of 76.25 per dollar before the Group of Seven rich nations stepped in on Friday (March 18).
Analysts have been estimating the cost of the calamity.
"This is a broad area with widespread infrastructure damage. I am pretty sure that the extent of damage is 50 percent greater (than the Kobe earthquake) if not double, which I estimate to be at about 15 to 20 trillion yen," said Makoto Utsumi, former Japan Vice Finance Minister and current president of Japan Credit Rating Agency.
Utsumi's estimate is equivalent to $185-247 billion.
The World Bank, citing private estimates, said the cost of Japan's earthquake and tsunami could range from $122 billion to $235 billion, or 2.5 to 4 percent of GDP. It said the disaster would hurt Japan's GDP growth through 2011.
The tsunami washed away just about everything in its path and more than 350,000 people have been evacuated and are living in temporary shelters. Nearly 15,000 buildings have been completely destroyed, the National Police Agency of Japan said.
Nearly 217,000 households in the north were without electricity as of Tuesday noon, and at least 880,000 households in 11 prefectures were without running water as of Monday, the Health Ministry says.
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