Few can now doubt that Japan’s economy, hardly in the most robust of shapes anyway, has taken a battering from last year’s tsunami. On Monday, data showed that output fell between October and December for the third time in four quarters as companies battled a perfect storm of problems. Read more
I have just returned from a trip to Tohoku, the north-east region of Japan pulverised by the worst tsunami and earthquake to hit the country in decades. More than 20,000 people are dead or missing and some of the coastal towns in the worst-affected areas lost up to 10 per cent of their inhabitants. Some 200,000 homes and shops have been washed away, nearly 80 per cent of the buildings in some places.
There had been hope that the shock would jolt some sense into Japan’s politicians. Sadly, that seems not to have occurred. Read more
We are borrowing Gideon’s blog to cover Japan’s earthquake. I am Shannon Bond in New York and I have taken over from Alan Rappeport and, earlier, Leyla Boulton in London. We are tapping our correspondents around the world. Please keep your comments coming. All times are London time.
2330 – We’re suspending rolling coverage until our colleagues in Asia are able to join us once again. Stay tuned.
2328 – More from Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo, who has spoken to sources at Tepco: Pressure in units 1,2,3 at Fukushima Nuclear power plant Number 1 has risen in the primary containment vessel but unable to confirm the level. All units almost completely sealed. The government has ordered Tepco to release the pressure and Tepco is preparing to do so. There is no electricity so unable to cool. All units at Fukushima Number 2 power plant shut down but all units apart from those that had been under maintenance are still functioning.
2319 - Reuters quotes a Tepco spokesman saying that pressure is stable inside the reactors but rising in the containment vessels. He said he did not know if there would be a need to release pressure – and radiation – at the plant at this point. Read more