TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to order the government to strengthen its response to the buildup and leakage of water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor after the industry ministry sought budget funds to address the problems, government officials said on Wednesday.
The moves suggest the government is likely to step in with public funds to support Tokyo Electric Power Co as it struggles to contain the worsening situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant 220 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates Tepco and other power utilities, has requested an allocation to help address the water problem, an official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Another official said that Abe, at a meeting of a government task force on the nuclear disaster on Wednesday, would instruct METI Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to step up the ministry’s response to the Fukushima water problems. This indicates the government will no longer leave Tepco to struggle alone but will get directly involved in the attempt to contain the water.
An official from the country’s nuclear watchdog told Reuters on Monday that the highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from the plant is creating an “emergency” that Tepco is not successfully containing on its own.