- Title: JAPAN: Tokyo commuters go back to work in spite of radiation anxieties
- Date: 23rd March 2011
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (MARCH 22, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING OUT OF STATION IN RAIN (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 29-YEAR-OLD OFFICE WORKER, HAZUKI YATSU, SAYING: "We still have power outages in the city, but things returned to normal. All that remains to be done is send more aid up to the north." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 52-YEAR-OLD LIFE INSURANCE SALESMAN, KEIICHI MORITA, SAYING: "I don't feel things have calmed down yet. There are still many aftershocks and concerns of nuclear radiation, especially when it is raining. We are worried there is radiation in the rain." PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 62-YEAR-OLD TEXTILE SHOP OWNER, TSUTOMU KONDO, SAYING: "There are still concerns over the shortage of gasoline supplies. We are rationed 20 litres a person (per day) and sometimes have to wait four or five hours to get fuel. I am worried how that will be solved in the future." MEN MAKING PHONE CALLS INSIDE TELEPHONE BOOTHS MAN MAKING PHONE CALL INSIDE TELEPHONE BOOTH PEOPLE GETTING OFF TRAIN STATION PEOPLE WALKING ON PLATFORM
- Embargoed: 7th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Japan, Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVA4RIGZS4K605XOGP5FO5G25TPD
- Story Text: Life in Tokyo regained its normal pace on Tuesday (March 22), as commuters started to return to work after week-long disruptions caused by a devastating earthquake and tsunami that have killed thousands of people and a crippled nuclear plant that has been leaking radiation.
In the city of 13 million, many residents had remained indoors for most of last week. Some expatriates and locals left the city after explosions at the Daiichi Fukushima nuclear plant caused radiation leaks.
But over the weekend, power company staff with the help of the Self Defence Forces, fire and police departments battled to cool the overheating reactors and connect power lines back to pumps, spreading some relief all over the country.
"We still have power outages in the city, but things returned to normal. All that remains to be done is send more aid up to the north," said 29-year-old office worker Hazuki Yatsu.
Tokyo and surrounding areas are facing rolling power cuts as power plants supplying the city were damaged like the stricken Fukushima plant, or are undergoing safety checks.
But people said although the mood was improving, anxiety was still prevalent due to the situation in Fukushima where the battle to avert a disastrous meltdown is far from over.
Steam appeared to be rising on Tuesday from the plant's reactor number 2 and a white haze was rising from reactor number 3. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), operator of the stricken Fukushima plant, says the steam from the reactors is not problematic and it has resumed work on restoring power to reactors Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The emergency playing out in Fukushima, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, is the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years.
Away from the plant, mounting evidence of radiation in vegetables, water and milk is stirring concerns among Japanese and abroad despite officials' assurances levels were not dangerous.
Two days of continuous rain are also adding to people's worries.
"I don't feel things have calmed down yet. There are still many aftershocks and concerns of nuclear radiation, especially when it is raining. We are worried there is radiation in the rain," said 52-year-old insurance salesman Keiichi Morita.
Japan has urged some residents near the plant to stop drinking tap water after high levels of radioactive iodine were detected. It has also stopped shipments of milk, spinach and another local leafy vegetable called kakina from the area.
Tiny levels of radioactive iodine were detected in tap water in Tokyo, authorities said, and radiation has also been found in dust in the greater city area.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the radiation impact was becoming more serious than first thought, when it was expected to be limited to 20-30 km (12-19 miles) from the plant.
Apart from radiation fears, many residents also cited a shortage of gasoline supplies as a dampening factor to the mood in Tokyo.
"There are still concerns over the shortage of gasoline supplies. We are rationed 20 litres a person (per day) and sometimes have to wait four or five hours to get fuel. I am worried how that will be solved in the future," said 62-year-old textile shop owner Tsutomu Kondo.
The casualties of the mega quake and tsunami on March 11 has risen to more than 20,000 dead or missing, authorities said.
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