Japan has raised its volcano warning to level four indicating that an eruption is imminent on Mt. Sakurajima, on the southern island of Kyushu.
Authorities in Tokyo have started to evacuate people living around the mountain as the Japan Meteorological Agency says the “possibility for a large-scale eruption has become extremely high for Sakurajima”.
There are also concerns that a large-scale eruption could affect the Sendai nuclear energy plant which lies just 50 kilometers from the volcano.
Japan brought back online one of the Sendai reactors on Tuesday, more than four years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused a systems failure and eventual radiation leak at the Fukushima power plant.
Sendai is now the first reactor that functions under much more stringent controls and standards following the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.
Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in March 2011; the subsequent tsunami killed 15,000, left 315,000 people homeless, and caused a number of explosions at the plant.
The consequent damage to Fukushima will require at least 40 years of repair – to infrastructure and the environment – at a cost of $11 billion.
In August 2013, Fukushima’s operator – Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) – said the plant had sprung a leak; radioactive water was pouring into the Pacific Ocean at a rate of 300 tons a day.
All nuclear power plants were taken offline a month later.
Economists say some of the national deficit is due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis which forced the country to turn from nuclear power to more expensive fossil-fuel alternatives; some 90 per cent of Japan’s energy supplies now come from imports.
The yen fell against the greenback by 18.9 per cent from a year earlier in the January-June period, the Finance Ministry said.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies