Evacuees protest for compensation

For the first time in six months, the government downgraded its assessment of economy, saying the March 11 magnitude-9 quake and tsunami, which left nearly 30,000 people dead or missing, have caused serious downward pressure on exports, production and consumption.

Japan’s Sendai Airport, which was submerged by massive tsunami last month, partially resumed domestic flight operations on Wednesday, with a Japan Airlines flight arriving from Tokyo’s Haneda airport at 8 am local time. The airport opening is expected to make it easier for volunteers and others from Tokyo and its vicinity, as well as western Japan, to visit the disaster-hit areas and accelerate relief activities there.

However, the country’s nuclear crisis was far from over as workers of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continued to remove highly radioactive water from the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant and cool a spent nuclear fuel pool.

A magnitude-5.8 quake also hit areas near the plant on Wednesday morning, but it did not obstruct recovery efforts or cause any abnormalities, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was quoted as saying by Kyodo.

TEPCO, the plant’s operator, kept pumping out highly polluted water from an underground tunnel-like trench to a nearby storage area inside the No 2 reactor’s building. The critical work began on Tuesday evening and an estimated 200 tonnes of tainted water was moved to a “condenser”. The utility aims to transfer of 700 tonnes of polluted water by Thursday.

The Science Ministry said the radiation levels in seawater off the coast of Fukushima are the highest since it began monitoring them about three weeks ago. Radiation levels are higher in the sea to the north of the crippled plant.

A group of residents evacuated from near the crippled plant protested at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo demanding compensation for losses suffered by them.

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