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Japan minister visits stricken nuke plant

Japan’s industry minister will on Saturday meet workers battling to cool overheating reactor cores and plug radioactive leaks in the first government visit to the country’s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant.

With Tokyo warning the crisis is far from over, Banri Kaieda will don full protective gear for his brief trip to the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, his ministry said.

Kaieda, who has overall responsibility for all of Japan’s 50-plus nuclear reactors, will be the first government figure to step inside the compound since the giant tsunami of March 11 knocked out cooling systems. The visit comes 24 hours after it emerged small amounts of radioactive water spilled from spent fuel cooling pools at another nuclear plant as a powerful aftershock rocked northeast Japan.

The cooling systems at three plants were forced onto back-up power when the 7.1 magnitude tremor late Thursday shut down electricity generation across a swathe of the country.

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