Business, Economics and Jobs

Japan crisis: the second wave


Tsunami waves hit the coast of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2011.


Sadatsugu Tomizawa

It is now nearly three months to the day after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and officials still have no idea the extent of the damage.

On Monday, Japan more than doubled its initial estimate of the radiation released at Fukushima, and plant operator TEPCO's shares dropped to a new low

Today, Japan officials said they are considering evacuating more towns thought to be affected by radiation.

There are four new "hot spots" that have been designated as exceeding the maximum levels of radiation, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. They are located northwest of the damaged plant in Fukushima, outside the original 19-mile evacuation zone.

"The government would like to come up with the safest and most conservative possible steps to deal with the situation, with residents' health in mind," Tetsuro Fukuyama, the deputy chief cabinet secretary, said Thursday.

It seems the news gets worse.

Molten nuclear fuel in three reactors at the plant is likely to have experienced a "melt through," according to The Guardian, which means the fuel rods not only melted but also breached the vessels in which they were contained.

Meanwhile, there is a severe energy shortage on the horizon that could have far-reaching effects on industry in Japan.

Reactors are being shut off one by one, and if Japan has its way, all 54 of its current reactors may be non-functioning by April of next year. Analysts warn that this would prompt many industries to relocate rather than face a long-term power shortage, Reuters reported.

If that's the case, then the impact on the economy in Japan would be — you guessed it — worse than originally thought.

But it is a bunny without ears — that is, an earless bunny — born near the affected plant has done more to raise radiation fears in this Asia editor than the whole barrage of bad news that came before.

Here he is in this video, sans ears but not entirely un-cute: