Japan decontamination to cost $13bn
Tokyo - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will spend at least $13bn to clean up vast areas contaminated by radiation from the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
"At least $13bn will be budgeted as we take on the responsibility for decontamination," Noda said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK on Thursday.
"It is a prerequisite for people to return to their homelands."
Japan faces the prospect of removing and disposing 29 million m³ of soil from a sprawling area in Fukushima, located 240km northeast of Tokyo, and four nearby prefectures.
The Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March, has spread radiation that has forced some 80 000 people to leave their homes after the government banned entry within a 20km radius of the plant.
For decontamination work, the government has so far raised $2.8bn and plans to allocate a further $5bn yen in the third extra budget it is set to formalise on Friday, Noda said, adding more would come in the next fiscal year's budget.
Some experts say the clean-up bill could reach billions of dollars.
Last week, a team of visiting UN nuclear experts said Japan should be less conservative in removing radiation.