Japan said Thursday it had no immediate plans to
expand the Fukushima evacuation zone despite mounting pressure, but
promised a swift reponse if the situation continued to worsen.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on
Wednesday urged Japan to expand the 20 km evacuation zone after
radiation levels measured at Iitate village, some 40 kms from the
Fukushima nuclear complex, were found to exceed the recommended level.

“The first assessment indicates that one of the IAEA
operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village,”
senior IAEA official Denis Flory told reporters in Vienna.

The IAEA had therefore advised Japan to “carefully
assess the situation, and they have indicated that it is already under
assessment,” he said.

The reading in Iitate was two megabecquerels per
square metre, a ratio about two times higher than levels at which the
IAEA recommends evacuation, said the head of its Incident and Emergency
Centre, Elena Buglova.

In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told
a news conference: “We have no plans to immediately evacuate people,
but naturally, high radiation levels in soil, if continued over a long
period of time … if need be, (we will) take steps to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, the level of radioactive iodine in the sea
off Japan’s disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant had surged to a new
high of 4385 times the legal limit, Japan’s nuclear safty agency said