Japan facing ‘most severe crisis since World War II’, says prime minister

Amongst the aftermath of a magnitude 8.9 earthquake which struck on Friday, followed by a tsunami, Naoto Kan, the current prime minister of Japan, has claimed that the country is experiencing its largest difficulties since the end of World War II in 1945.

“The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II,” Kan stated. Speaking on television, he stated that “[w]hether we Japanese can overcome this crisis depends on each of us. I strongly believe that we can get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together.”

Sendai City after Tsunami.

Kan reported that there were limited supplies of electricity due to the closure of numerous power stations, including a nuclear power plant located in Fukushima Prefecture. According to NHK, a broadcasting organization in Japan, approximately 310,000 individuals have been transported to safety in shelters that, in various cases, do not contain electricity.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The Government of Japan has reported the deaths of one thousand individuals, although thousands of others have not been taken into account. The police have claimed that the death toll in the Miyagi Prefecture as a result of the earthquake and tsunami could be in excess of ten thousand. 100,000 troops – which equates to approximately 40% of the country’s armed forces – are said to have been committed to assisting with the survivors of the disasters.

The nuclear agency of Japan consider the circumstances at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to be Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which is an accident with local consequences. According to BBC News Online, incidents like this usually cause one person to die from causes related to radiation. No individuals from the power plant are reported to have died.

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Egyptian prime minister steps down; armed forces appoint former transport minister to position

Ahmed Shafik Egypt’s acting prime minister has resigned, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, now in control of the country, announced on Thursday.

Shafik was appointed to his position by then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Egypt anti-government protests, not long before Mubarak decided to resign as president on February 11, 2011. Meanwhile, a number of his cabinet ministers have retained their positions. Shafik had received criticism for his negative attitude towards young protesters and his “inadequate vision”, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Ahmed Mohamed Shafik, who served as Prime Minister of Egypt from January 2011 to March 2011.

In response to the announcement of Shafik’s resignation, Wael Ghonim, a Google executive, credited with organizing the first demonstration and a former political prisoner, wrote on Twitter, a micro-blogging website, “Power to the people!” During the Egyptian protests, one of the key demands of the protesters was that Shafik step down from his acting minister status. Mohamed ElBaradei, another pro-democracy activist and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, tweeted on Twitter that Egypt is “on the right track.”

Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei, Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The statement released by the Council also announced Essam Sharaf as the new prime minister. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces decided to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and appointed Essam Sharaf to form the new government,” the armed forces said on social networking website Facebook.

Sharaf formerly held the position as the Minister of Transportation. The Los Angeles Times reports that he departed from that position five years ago, during the aftermath of numerous train collisions in which the Egyptian government was accused of carelessness.

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was considered persona non grata by Egypt on Monday, as was his family. According to BBC News Online, Mubarak is not in the good health and has yet been seen or heard from in public since his resignation.

Despite having achieved one of their aims, protesters intend to continue demonstrating with mass rallies on Friday because all their demands have yet to be met. The removal of a current emergency law is amongst those demands. The law allows the Egyptian government to place people under arrest without charges brought against them. In a statement, the January 25 Youth Coalition said that they “still demand a specific time frame to achieve the rest of the revolution’s basic demands.” The protesters also continue to request the removal of ministers with ties to the old regime.

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