The risk of a massive leak of radioactive materials from a crippled nuclear plant in northeast Japan is becoming "significantly smaller," the government said Monday.
"The possibility that the situation at the nuclear plant will deteriorate and lead to new leakage of massive radioactive materials is becoming significantly smaller," chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told reporters.
"Obviously, the nuclear plant is not running normally. We have to continue to ask nearby residents to remain evacuated in case the situation deteriorates.
"We believe the risk of that has become significantly smaller compared to one or two weeks after the earthquake," Edano said, a month to the day after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima plant.
The government believed the current 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone was sufficient to protect people living near the plant against any sudden spike in radiation levels, he added.
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