Things are turning increasingly personal in Japan, as the leaders of the country and of Tokyo Electric Power are making increasingly using personal appearances to try to reconnect with the people battered by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan endorsed his Cabinet's approval of a nearly $50 billion recovery budget, vowing that it would not be the last such spending plan introduced to help the country rebuild from the massive damage suffered since March 11.
Kan has personally apologized for his government's actions after the devastation and has recently said that the country was suffering a "crisis within a crisis." Kan, who has made several visits to evacuation centers to visit survivors, vowed to stay on in his job until the recovery was well under way.
The tsunami wiped out whole villages, killing up to 28,000 people and making homeless more than 250,000. Temporary shelters are still packed with people, and relief officials see a faraway end in sight to the current overcrowding. Cleanup continued on a massive scale across the northeastern part of Honshu, the country's largest island.
Masataka Shimizu (left), president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, meanwhile has taken his apology one step further, repeatedly meeting with survivors of the quake and tsunami who have been forced into evacuation centers by the failure of protection measures surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. Since a series of explosions rocked the plant, reactors there have leaked radiation, so much so that Kan has announced a 12-mile evacuation zone and plant officials have dumped radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to keep more of it from seeping into the surrounding soil. (Area farmers have already been told to avoid planting anew anywhere near the disaster zone.)
Leaking radiation has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in a government-mandated evacuation. The governor of Fukushima prefecture, Yuhui Sato, weighed in recently, saying that the troubled power plant should never be restarted, even if it is targeted for full repair.
Recent polls throughout the country have revealed that the Japanese people are deeply disapproving of these officials' handling of the crises. Calls for both Kan and Shimizu to resign have increased in recent days.