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Asia-Pacific

Tokyo's nationalist governor reelected in quake aftermath

media An anti-nuclear protester during a march in front of Tokyo Electric Power … Reuters

Tokyo’s nationalist governor Shintaro Ishihara won a fourth term on Sunday in local elections overshadowed by the nuclear accident caused by last month’s earthquake and tsunami. Thousands of soldiers searched for bodies along the northern Pacific coast.

Exit polls showed Ishihara beating 10 other candidates, despite having to apologise for describing the 11 March disasters as “divine punishment” and claiming that the tsunami had washed away the “greedy mind” of Japanese people.

He struck a nationalist note on the eve of the poll, claiming that if Japanese did not “give up luxuries” to help reconstruction, “we will become a subject nation of China”.

Tokyo was one of 12 prefectures where the governor’s post was up for grabs on Sunday. There were also elections for mayor in four major cities, 41 prefecture legislatures and 15 major local councils.

Japan should have told its neighbours before releasing

10,000 tons of mildly radioactive water

into the sea, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday after China and South Korea expressed concern over the move.

Nearly a month after the disasters struck, then military was still searching for thousands of bodies:

  • About 22,000 soldiers searched for bodies of victims of the earthquake and tsunami along the coast;
  • Ninety aircraft, 50 vessels and 100 divers looked for corpses swept out to sea while 14,000 ground troops combed rubble for the 15,000 people still unaccounted for;
  • Between 80 and 100 bodies are found every day, rescuers say;
  • About 13,000 have been confirmed dead. More than half of those whose ages are known were 65 or over, according to Asahi Shimbun newspaper;
  • The paper also reports that the government is to ban rice cultivation in some radioactive fields.

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