TOKYO - The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for strengthened nuclear safety after visiting Japan's disaster-hit zone in Fukushima on Monday. Ban said at a joint press conference with Japanese foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto in Tokyo that the Fukushima nuclear power accident "has underscored the importance of strengthened nuclear safety" and the nuclear safety should be "coordinated on the regional and international level" to better serve "the interest of the world in promoting the energy".
Ban visited Fukushima in the morning, expressing support to local evacuees who remain displaced five months after the quake and ensuing tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Visiting a shelter at a gymnasium, Ban told some 300 people that "the world is with you" in Japanese, encouraging the victims of the disasters to hang on.
He also met with local high school students and visited the tsunami-devastated seaside area of Soma city in the prefecture, where he said he believes Japan will be able to overcome this tragedy with the nation's determination and the international community's support. "I met many evacuees in Fukushima. Many of them told me please do whatever the UN can do so that the Fukushima tragedy will not happen (again)." Ban said.
The March 11 disasters have left about 23,000 people dead or missing and triggered the world's worst nuclear leakage at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. He said Japan should share its lessons drawn from the disasters with the world, and he welcomes Japanese government's initiative to convene a high level meeting on nuclear energy next year, and also to convene the third world's conference on disaster risk reduction in 2015.
On other regional and global issues, the UN chief thanked Japan for its contribution in disaster relief in places such as Haiti, and peace keeping missions in Africa.
He called on Japan to contribute more in assisting and funding poorer regions, especially to help South Sudan, the world's newest nation, to build infrastructure from scratch, using Japan's technologies and experiences.
Ban also said he will talk to Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa on Tuesday about the possibility of dispatching Self- Defense Forces (SDF) to such missions in the form of engineering teams, even though he know "the SDF is engaged in restoration and rehabilitation of tsunami damages" in their own country. (Xinhua)