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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Nuclear plant accident splits Japan press
Japanese consumers
Concern over the safety of nuclear power is widespread in Japan

Japan's national dailies have been debating the latest blow to the nuclear industry after four people died when a cooling pipe burst at the Mihama plant on Monday.

Some papers express concern over the safety of Japan's nuclear project in the light of the accident, while others call on the Japanese public not to overreact.

"We should not fan people's fears about the safety of the nuclear power plants by overreacting to the accident", says Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest daily.

The accident should not affect operations in Japan's other nuclear plants, the paper adds.

"Accident at Mihama nuclear plant not linked to nuclear fuel programme" argues a headline in the mass-circulation daily Sankei Shimbun.

It reminds those who "try to take advantage" of the accident to steer public opinion against Japan's nuclear programme that it should not be regarded as a serious nuclear accident.

Despite the deaths, the paper adds, there was no radiation leakage and therefore, the International Atomic Energy Association is unlikely to react strongly.

'Blind spot'

In contrast, Japan's second-largest daily, Asahi Shimbun, points out that in terms of fatalities, the accident is the worst ever at a Japanese nuclear power plant and cannot be ignored.

"The accident will have a great impact on future nuclear power development", it predicts.

And as nuclear plants in Japan become older, the paper warns, accidents are likely to become increasingly frequent.

There is no doubt that there were flaws in safety measures
Tokyo Shimbun

The Mainichi Shimbun takes a similar view.

"We cannot ignore the impact the accident will have on Japan's nuclear power plant development and nuclear energy policy as a whole", it says in its lead editorial.

"Depending on the cause of the accident, all other facilities will have to be inspected", it demands.

"There is no doubt that there were flaws in safety measures", states the Tokyo Shimbun, referring to the condition of steam pipes in nuclear facilities as a "blind spot".

Tokyo Shimbun, in tune with other Japanese papers, calls primarily for an investigation into the cause of the accident.

All the papers stress that lessons must be learnt. In addition to finding the reason why the four Mihama workers died, they agree that nuclear plant inspections should be more thorough in future.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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