Significant amounts of radiation are being measured in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.
The nuclear threat is arising out of the earthquake that struck the region on Friday - measuring 8.3 on the moment magnitude scale and initiating a tsunami that surged into cities and villages along the Japanese coast.
The official figures of dead and injured are in the thousands and rising, and the longer term economic impact is likely to be huge in a country that was already struggling under the heaviest debt burden in the industrial world.
Japan is in the most earthquake-prone area on earth, known as the "ring of fire". But even Tokyo residents say they have never felt anything as powerful as what they went through on Friday.
Is the nightmare scenario of nuclear meltdown becoming real? And what can be done to contain the nuclear threat while at the same time dealing with the widespread destruction caused by the country's largest recorded earthquake?
Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with Seijiro Takeshita, the director of Mizuho International, which is the London-based securities and investment banking arm of Mizhuo Financial Group; Peter Jensen, an associate professor of disaster management at the University of Copenhagen; and Imad Khadduri, a nuclear scientist who has visited a number of Japanese plants including that of Fukushima.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Saturday, March 12, 2011.
Source: Al Jazeera