Japan foreign min. visits Chernobyl to apply insight to Fukushima

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Chernobyl, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, on Sunday to observe the nuclear power plant and areas surrounding it.

Kishida is expected to apply the lessons of the postdisaster work being conducted there to Japan's ongoing efforts to deal with the aftermath of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

"I directly saw that the battle to contain the accident still continues 27 years after the disaster. Ukraine's experience and knowledge serve as a useful reference for workers coping with the Fukushima nuclear crisis," Kishida told reporters accompanying him.

Japan and Ukraine signed an agreement in April last year to cooperate in dealing with nuclear disasters.

The foreign minister viewed the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl plant, which exploded in April 1986 and is now enclosed in a concrete sarcophagus, from a distant point guided by the head of the plant.

He also visited a deserted town near the plant from which around 50,000 people evacuated following the disaster.

Kishida heard from the plant chief and other Ukrainian officials about the country's decontamination efforts and measures to ensure nuclear safety.

He is scheduled to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kozhara in Kiev on Monday. He is due to return to Japan on Tuesday.