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Japan's Shinzo Abe calls on TEPCO to decommission 2 Fukushima reactors

Japan's nuclear watchdog members at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma,

Story highlights

  • Abe asks TEPCO to decommission Reactors 5 and 6 at the crippled nuclear plant
  • Those two reactors didn't suffer the same level of damage as the other four
  • The prime minister visits the Fukushima plant amid concerns about toxic water leaks
  • He sets TEPCO a deadline of March 2014 to fix the contaminated water problem

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that he has asked Tokyo Electric Power Co. to decommission two more reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Abe called for the decommissioning of Reactors 5 and 6 "as soon as possible" as he visited the plant, wearing protective gear, to look at efforts to contain leaks from tanks holding huge volumes of toxic water at the plant.

Less than two weeks ago, his government said it would spend about $470 million to try to tackle the contaminated water crisis at the plant, which was damaged by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan in March 2011.

Life goes on despite uncertainty in Fukushima

It also follows the announcement that Tokyo will host the Olympic Games in the summer of 2020. Abe has promised that the games will be "safe and secure" despite continuing concerns about the situation at the Fukushima plant.

How did we get to this point?

Reactors 5 and 6 were in not in operation when the 2011 tsunami hit the power plant and didn't experience the damage suffered by the other four reactors. They have been in "cold shutdown" since the disaster.

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Meltdowns occurred at Reactors 1, 2 and 3. And concerns remain about the state of the spent fuel rod at Reactor 4.

The long road home after 2011 disaster

TEPCO has already said it will decommission the four damaged reactors, but it hadn't clarified what would happen to Reactors 5 and 6.

Abe said he also asked the plant operator to fix the problem of toxic water leaks by the end of March 2014.

TEPCO is struggling to manage the vast amounts of tainted water stored at the plant and hundreds of tons of groundwater that flow through the area every day.

Japan shuts down last nuclear reactor -- for now