Nervousness Grows as Japan Battles Nuclear Crisis
This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.
Hi, I'm Saijal Patel and you're watching "Asia Market Daily".
Experts say Japan is running out of options in its battle to prevent a nuclear crisis.
Tepco's Fukushima Daiichi plant has now suffered a series of fires and explosions - since Friday's earthquake and tsunami.
But Thomas Graham Junior, of nuclear parts supplier Lightbridge Corporation, says although Japan's decision to pump seawater into the reactors highlights the severity of the situation, the action is likely to work.
(SOT) Thomas Graham Junior, Executive Chairman, Lightbridge Corporation, Washington D.C.:
"It is a bit of a desperation move, given the end result that these reactors will no longer be useable. But over the next few days it should do the job. I'm confident that in the end, the Japanese will work their way out of this. In the long run, there's really no substitute for nuclear power if we're going to deal with climate change. It's the only base load technology available that has no carbon emissions."
While the nuclear situation appears to be worsening at the Fukushima plant, 240 kilometers away, residents of Tokyo are feeling even more nervous.
Anxiety in the capital is adding to an already-stressful situation, for the millions who live in the city.
CBNC's Sri Jegarajah took to the streets, and filed this report.
A palpable sense of nervousness in Tokyo. Despite a slew of official reassurances, people in the Japanese capital are worried about nuclear contamination.
That's after reports said radioactivity levels in metropolitan Tokyo were 23 times normal - not enough to harm humans, but enough to fray the nerves.
(SOT) Woman in Tokyo:
"This is very difficult for people. But I personally am not too worried because I don't have family in Fukushima"
(SOT) Man in Tokyo:
"I am very worried, and that's why I'm wearing this mask."
Many were not taking any chances. Panicked Tokyo-ites cleared the shelves at this bakery. Retailers say they haven't seen such frenzied buying since the oil crisis in the 70s.
(SOT) Baker, Tokyo:
"There's no difference in the amount of bread I make on any given day, except since the earthquake I sell out completely. Since the earthquake it's been like this everyday."
A short can ride away across town, face masks, bottled water, torches, many other essentials were selling out fast at this 24-hour general store.
Sri Jegarajah, CNBC, Tokyo:
A jump in radiation levels in metropolitan Tokyo has triggered a rush of panic buying in general stores, like the one that you see behind me. That's highly unusual in an ordered modern city of 12 million people.
Meanwhile, the weekday crowds were noticeable only for their absence in cafes, bars and restaurants normally popular with salary men looking for a bite or a quick drink before the commute home.
Here in Azabujuban, a Tokyo enclave that's normally immensely popular amongst expats and locals alike, this ramen restaurant that you can see today is virtually empty.
But the quiet tension in Tokyo was just too much for some to bear. They opted out and headed for the exits.
(SOT) Cheung Yan Yung, university student from Hong Kong:
"My family want me to go home as soon as possible and my flight is tomorrow but I am here just in case."
(SOT) Gunta Brunner, 25-year-old creative director from Argentina:
"Everyone is going out of the country. With an earthquake you can survive without many problems. With the tsunami, if you are in the middle of Japan, or like Tokyo it's not a problem, but with the radiation it's like you cannot escape, and you cannot see it."
Is it pragmatism or a huge overreaction? Well if even the experts can't tell what's going on, it's hard to expect ordinary citizens to know what to do. Sri Jegarajah for CNBC in Tokyo.
Sentiment though is improving on regional markets.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rallied just over 5.5 percent today - recapturing recent losses, while most other Asian markets also climbed higher.
CNBC's Allison Browne reports on Japan's worst two-day stockmarket plunge, in two decades.
Up till March 12, Japanese shares seemed to be on the rebound after last year's dismal performance. But the losses from Monday and Tuesday have wiped out $626 billion from the first section - that's more than the GDP of Switzerland. But some are calling this a buying opportunity. Others say the selling was clearly overdone.
(SOT) Ed Rogers, CEO of Rogers Investment Advisors, Hong Kong:
"Is it realistic to think that an earthquake off the coast of Sendai in the Tohoku region is going to have this much of an impact on the earnings of the Topix which is 1700-odd companies spread throughout Japan, or the Nikkei 225, how many in the Nikkei 225 are headquartered in Tohoku and have majority of production facilities there?"
But perception is everything and how authorities handle the nuclear situation could be key.
(SOT) Tomohiko Taniguchi, Professor by Special Invitation, Keio University, Tokyo:
"What government is going to do is going to be so crucial. If the government succeeded in containing the damage, let's say the day after tomorrow, we're going to be celebrating that we have passed the most critical period of time in Japanese modern history."
When the Kobe earthquake struck in 1995, it didn't take long for the market to recover. But as some point out, that was during healthier economic times. Allison Browne for CNBC.
Speaking of investments, CNBC spoke with Jim Rogers earlier today, about the recent sell-off in Japan.
The investment guru says commodities - such as oil and gas - will benefit from greater demand, as nuclear power gets shut down.
(SOT) Jim Rogers, Chairman, Rogers Holdings, Singapore:
"The best thing to do historically is to wait a little while and buy into the panic selling. You know in 1995 when they had the Kobe earthquake, the Japanese stock market went down 25 percent. But end of the year, it was almost up or certainly flat."
That's the latest on the Japan quake disaster.
Thanks for watching "Asia Market Daily", I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.
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