HUGE COSTS, ANXIETY
The government and Tepco will aim to begin removing the undamaged nuclear rods from the plant's spent fuel pools next year. However, retrieval of fuel that melted down in their reactors may not begin for another decade.
The enormous cost of the cleanup and compensating the victims has drained Tepco financially. The government may inject about $13 billion into the company as early as next summer in a de facto nationalization, sources told Reuters last week.
An official advisory panel estimates Tepco may have to pay about 4.5 trillion yen ($57 billion) in compensation in the first two years after the nuclear crisis, and that it will cost 1.15 trillion yen to decommission the plant, though some experts put it at 4 trillion yen ($51 billion) or even more.
Japan also faces a massive cleanup task outside the east coast plant if residents are to be allowed to go home. The Environment Ministry says about 2,400 square km (930 square miles) of land around the plant may need to be decontaminated, an area roughly the size of Luxembourg.
The crisis shook the public's faith in nuclear energy and Japan is now reviewing an earlier plan to raise the proportion of electricity generated from nuclear power to 50 percent by 2030 from 30 percent in 2010.
Japan may not immediately walk away from nuclear power, but few doubt that nuclear power will play a lesser role in future.
Living in fear of radiation is part of life for residents both near and far from the plant. Cases of excessive radiation in vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water have stoked anxiety despite assurances from public officials that the levels detected are not dangerous.
Chernobyl's experience shows that anxiety is likely to persist for years, with residents living near the former Soviet plant still regularly checking produce for radiation before consuming it 25 years after the disaster.