On a day of pledges, TEPCO announced plans to achieve a cold shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station while Secretary of State Hilary Clinton promised U.S. support to Japan as it tries to recover from the world's costliest natural disaster.
TEPCO, owners of the Fukushima plant, said they hope to reduce radiation leaks within three months, and bring the plant to a cold shutdown within six to nine months. The most pressing issues are stopping hydrogen explosions in three of the plant's reactors and finding a way to store tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water rather than releasing them into the ocean.
"We will do our utmost to curb the release of radioactive materials by achieving a stable cooling state at the reactors and spent fuel pools," Tsunehisa Katsumata, TEPCO's chariman, told reporters at a news conference.
While TEPCO has outlined their plan of bringing the crisis under control, they are still unable to give evacuees a time frame as to when they will be able to return to their homes. Even if the cool shutdown is achieved within six to nine months, Japan's Economic Minister Banri Kaida said full recovery will take longer. "But true safety will not come until the fuel rods are removed from the reactors," he told a news conference.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Clinton met with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace, rare for a non-head of state. In the meetings Clinton pledged U.S. support to the country as it tries to recover from the March's earthquake and tsunami, a recovery that is estimated to cost $300 billion. At least 14,000 have died because of the disaster, with another 14,000 unaccounted for.
"Economically, diplomatically and in so many other ways, Japan is indispensable to global problem-solving," Clinton said in a news conference. "And the U.S.-Japan alliance is as indispensable as ever to global security and progress."
Clinton also announced the creation of a public-private partnership designed to help aid the recovery. The partnership is intended to increase co-operation between U.S. and Japanese businesses. The U.S. has already deployed 20,000 troops to Japan along with aircrafts and ships.