East Asian Leaders meet in solidarity in Fukushima

Wen Jiabao, Naoto Kan and Lee Myung-bak at evacuation center in Fukishima City
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea publicly munched on farm produce grown near the stricken Japanese nuclear plant on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Japan’s recovery efforts.

Premier Wen Jiabao of China and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea arrived in Japan on Saturday for a two-day meeting that was expected to focus on resolving differences over Japan’s handling of the nuclear crisis.

China and South Korea have criticized Japan for spilling radiation into the air and sea, and have banned imports of farm products from areas near the plant, citing what they call inadequate checks for radiation. Japan says the restrictions are unjustified.

Before the meeting began in Tokyo on Saturday night, the Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, took the leaders to visit a refugee shelter in Fukushima, 40 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Before entering the shelter, a converted gymnasium, Mr. Kan steered the group to a table displaying strawberries, cucumbers and other produce grown in Fukushima Prefecture.

The leaders, who did not appear to have been surprised by the photo op, smiled and nibbled gamely. “Very delicious,” Mr. Wen said…

Before meeting Mr. Kan, the two visiting leaders also paid separate visits to the city of Natori, which was devastated by the tsunami.

The warm feelings of the two leaders came through in their visits to disaster areas and an evacuation center,” Mr. Kan told reporters. “I’m glad they came.”

No doubt import restrictions to China and South Korea will be reduced following this meeting. The interesting bits will be – what else is resolved over the weekend?

The earthbound disaster has pushed Japan’s economy into an artificial recession. Individual Japanese corporations have started working their way out of the context of parts suppliers and individual enterprises both being handicapped by the damage to physical plant and infrastructure. Collective effort will be welcomed – no doubt – to aid Japan’s recovery.

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