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Media: World must learn lessons from Japan disaster

By Ian Francis, for CNN
The horrors of Japan continue to dominate the front pages of newspapers across the world
The horrors of Japan continue to dominate the front pages of newspapers across the world
  • Newspapers say lessons must be learned from Japan's earthquake and tsunami
  • Some media say countries should review their own nuclear programs
  • Japanese catastrophe and aftermath dominates world's front pages

(CNN) -- Newspapers across the world have been reacting to the latest developments in Japan after that country's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Here are a selection from Monday's editions:

Japan Today leads on the enormity of the task facing rescue workers in the aftermath of the tsunami. The English-language paper says: "Rescue workers, police and local officials continued to struggle Monday to recover growing numbers of bodies and confirm the fates of tens of thousands of people still unaccounted for, while supplies were running short following Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami."

The Japan Times says in an editorial that the government should speed up its building and refurbishment programs. "As a long-term goal the government should hasten the completion of projects involving the construction or refurbishing of school buildings to resist quakes. For their part, private citizens should stock emergency supplies of food and water, and ensure that heavy household items are anchored to prevent injury."

The Mainichi Daily News is critical of the speed at which power companies are releasing information on the potential dangers of radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It says: "Power suppliers appear to be slow in releasing information on damage caused to their nuclear power plants. It was not until the afternoon of March 13 that Tohoku Electric Power Co. announced the rise in radiation levels at its Onagawa plant, which it had detected as early as the predawn hours of the day. Explanations that government officials have provided on radiation leaks and an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant at news conferences are too vague. Government officials probably fear possible overreactions by the public to their announcements, but they should keep in mind that accurate information is indispensable for ensuring the safety of members of the public."

Thousands still unaccounted for in Japan
  • Japan
  • Earthquakes

The New York Times says the Japanese nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami casts doubt on U.S. President Barack Obama's energy strategy. "Until this weekend, President Obama, mainstream environmental groups and large numbers of Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed that nuclear power offered a steady energy source and part of the solution to climate change, even as they disagreed on virtually every other aspect of energy policy. Mr. Obama is seeking tens of billions of dollars in government insurance for new nuclear construction, and the nuclear industry in the United States, all but paralyzed for decades after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, was poised for a comeback. Now, that is all in question as the world watches the unfolding crisis in Japan's nuclear reactors and the widespread terror it has spawned."

The Los Angeles Times says that, despite being highly vulnerable to earthquakes, the quality of buildings in Los Angeles goes nowhere near to matching the standards demanded in Japan. "It's not a question of whether we're due for a catastrophic quake, but when. Although California building codes are among the most stringent in the United States (thanks to the 1933 Long Beach quake, which destroyed nearly all of our unreinforced masonry buildings), they don't begin to match the standards demanded in Japan. Just consider the high overpasses where the 5 and 14 Freeways meet -- which fell in the 1971 Sylmar quake; their replacements fell in the 1994 Northridge quake -- and you begin to realize just how vulnerable our infrastructure is. And those quakes were only 6.6 and 6.7 in magnitude -- thousands of times weaker than the Sendai quake."

The New Zealand Herald reports the mayor of Christchurch -- which was hit by a devastating earthquake last month -- offering sympathy to the people of Japan. "Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the thoughts of his quake-stricken city are with Japan following Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake which devastated much of the country and left thousands dead. 'Nobody knows more than the people of this city at this moment what it must be like and we can't even begin to comprehend the scale of the tragedy in Japan,' Mr. Parker said at a press conference today."

The South China Morning Post says China is offering help to Japan despite hostilities between the two countries. "China stands willing to give earthquake-struck Japan more help, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday, expressing sympathy for the stricken country with which Beijing has often had icy relations."

The Times of India says the country must heed important lessons that have emerged from Japan's catastrophe. "Development of better building codes, strict enforcement of existing ones, creation of disaster management plans and response bodies from the local level to the central, streamlining of the relevant administrative machinery with funding and jurisdiction clearly demarcated -- these are all measures the government must take, and soon. Considering the possibility of a meltdown of nuclear reactors at Fukushima, a thorough safety audit must be conducted of Indian nuclear plants -- to test whether they can withstand the severest possible earthquakes. Unless these measures are taken, the cost of India's lack of preparedness may turn out to be devastating.

German newspaper Spiegel reports that Greens leader Claudia Roth has criticized the German government's response to the nuclear crisis in Japan and says the safety of reactors will be an issue in an important regional election in the state of Baden-Würrtemberg on March 27. "This will politicize the election."

Britain's The Daily Telegraph says Japan will re-emerge from the destruction: "To visit Japan is to be struck by its people's energy and resourcefulness. The cost they are bearing in human lives and material destruction is huge. But their experience of dealing with earthquakes throughout their recorded history, not least those that hit Tokyo in 1923 and Kobe in 1995, is second to none. Lost lives cannot be recovered, but the towns and villages will be rebuilt and the fields replanted."

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