Japanese government officials and shipping industry representatives will meet Friday in a bid to step up their fight against what they call "harmful rumors" about radiation.
The "liaison conference," to be held in Yokohama City, adjacent to Tokyo, will discuss ways to reduce the impact on shipping and aviation of fears about the level of danger posed by the heavily damaged Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said.
Some foreign shipping firms have avoided making calls at ports in and near Tokyo, while some foreign airlines have diverted their flight services from Narita and Haneda to other airports, the ministry said.
The conference will bring together about 50 people from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Japanese Shipowners' Association, the Japan Foreign Steamship Association, and the Japan Port and Harbor Association.
"We will hear industry people's complaints and opinions," Kinya Ichimura, a security and emergency management official at the ministry told the Journal of Commerce.
"If nothing is done, the Japanese economy and people's lives will be affected considerably by harmful rumors that are not based on data," Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohata said at a press conference on March 18.
Echoing Ohata's sense of crisis, JSA's chairman and chairman of NYK Line, Koji Miyahara, also said at a press conference on March 23, "If harmful rumors spread to liquefied natural gas tankers, it would hamper reconstruction assistance and have a great adverse impact on the Japanese economy."
Japan has been releasing reports on radiation levels around main international ports and airports in and near Tokyo. Measurements of radiation doses around the Port of Tokyo, the Port of Yokohama, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport are available on the ministry's Web site.
These ports and airports have not been affected directly by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11. The Port of Tokyo and the Port of Yokohama are Japan's largest and second-largest container ports.
The Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, which is operated by Japan's biggest electric utility Tokyo Electric Power, is about 137 miles northeast of Tokyo.
The nuclear power plant has suffered fires and explosions, leaking radiation. People living within a 12.5-mile radius of the 40-year-old plant have been evacuated.
Resource-poor Japan imports almost all of its natural gas in the form of LNG and is by far the world's largest LNG importer. The country is further boosting LNG imports to meet its energy needs in the wake of the March 11 twin natural disasters.
The twin natural disasters immediately shut down four nuclear power plants, which have a total output capacity of 12,370 megawatts, or a quarter of Japan's overall nuclear power generation capacity. Before the disasters, nuclear power supplied about 30 percent of Japan's electricity needs.
As of Thursday afternoon Japan time, radiation levels around the Port of Tokyo, the Port of Yokohama, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport are at very safe levels and do not have any effect on human health, the land ministry said.
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