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Japan's Nuclear Crisis Turns the Corner

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

A big hello to our viewers across China. I'm Saijal Patel and you're watching "Asia Market Daily".

More than a week after the quake that started the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, officials are finally making some headway in cooling damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

But as attention focused on radiation fears, survivors are apparently not getting enough aid.

CNBC's Allison Browne reports.

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It's the Spring Equinox holiday in Japan. But celebration will be farthest from the minds of Japanese. Aid workers say not enough relief is getting to the survivors, many of whom are very elderly and frail. Nearly half a million people are living in evacuation centres, with reports of just one meal a day and several deaths of mostly old people.

But the nuclear situation appeared to be turning the corner. Officials said the pressure in Unit 3 had stabilized, while reactors 5 and 6 have been safely halted. Seawater continued to be sprayed at units 3 and 4. But power has been restored to reactor 2.

The threat of radiation is also causing other kinds of fallout. Milk and spinach from areas near Fukushima were found to contain higher than normal levels of radiation, although still within safety levels.

Yukio Edano, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary:
"Levels of radiation exceeding the provisional food safety legislation were found in milk produced in Fukushima prefecture and spinach harvested in Ibaraki prefecture."

But farmers worry that their livelihoods may be affected.

9 days after the quake hit and rescue workers continued to find survivors. An 80-year old woman and her teenage grandson were rescued from the remains of their flattened house.

Japan's coastguard meanwhile released new video showing one of its ships sailing straight into one of the massive tsunami waves that hit Japan's east coast. Waves reached as high as 10 metres in some areas. A grim reminder of nature's devastating force. Allison Browne for CNBC.

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The disaster is not affecting just the Japanese economy, it also has implications for other nations in the region.

Tomo Kinoshita of Nomura International says the quake could cause supply disruptions for Japan's exports to Asia, especially in the electronics and auto industries.

However, on the whole, the impact on Asia isn't likely to be significant.

(SOT) Tomo Kinoshita. Deputy Head of Economics, ex-Japan Asia, Nomura International:
"We think that the overall impact on the Asian economy should be quite limited, because our economist in Japan thinks that this earthquake is going to reduce Japan's GDP this year by only 0.4 percentage point."

Operations at some of the country's big manufacturers are already staring to get back to normal.

Sony will resume production at its battery plant in Tochigi prefecture tomorrow. While Nissan will reopen six factories and some assembly plants this week.

But Kinoshita San warns there could be speed bumps ahead for carmakers.

(SOT) Tomo Kinoshita, Deputy Head of Economics, ex-Japan Asia, Nomura International:
"In the case of car manufacturing, I think they, well each car uses about 20,000 components and then if we miss one or two, then they have to stop whole operation, so the impact is still unknown and we should really watch carefully.
But I am particularly worried about the automobile industry seeing as that many of the parts are not substitutable.

Elsewhere, coalition ally airstrikes are continuing to pound parts of Libya in an effort to beat back forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The goal is to disable Libya's air defenses.

NBC's Richard Engel reports.

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Richard Engel, CNBC, Libya.

As we crossed from Egypt to Eastern Libya today, it didn't look like the latest American military intervention in the Middle East, had just begun. The mood was calm, we easily passed through relaxed rebel checkpoints. A week ago as Gaddafi's forces were advancing, we watched people on this same road, take down rebel flags, preparing to switch sides. Now the flags are back up. But at a check point on the outskirts of Tobruk, it's obvious the rebels still need a great deal more help. Many of the rebels were unarmed, those that were, fired in the air, apparently without reason. There was a tank by side of road, but no one in it. I asked one of the rebels what he thought of the foreign military strikes.

They're wonderful, he said, all of Libya is happy. God willing there will be more of them, so we can go to Gaddafi's palace in Tripoli.

There were more signs of that renewed confidence in central Tobruk, a sleepy Mediterranean port city.

Man in Tobruk:
"Thank you for Obama because he has helped the people in Libya."

Traffic thronged the streets, the main market was full of boys selling eggs, women selling milk. A man fixing shoes. The people here believe they're now safe.

There is a feeling of relief here that finally help has come. Until the US and European missile strikes, the rebels were about to lose this war. Now there's a hope they can turn it around.

Today was a major victory for rebels, but this war won't be won with a few well placed air strikes.

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As the crisis continues to push up oil prices, some research firms predict crude could soon hit $200 U.S. a barrel.

Platts warns if the situation gets out of control in the Middle East and North Africa, that new record high figure would be "quite believable".

Vandana Hari of Platts says there's a lot of risk for the market to factor in right now, considering the conflict has the potential to impact almost a third of global supply.


(SOT) Vandana Hari, Asia News Director for Oil and Gas, Platts:
It's difficult right now to quantify the fear in the market. What exactly are we pricing in? Now clearly the outage of Libyan supplies, about 1.6 million barrels a day, 85 percent of which used to be exported to Europe, I think that's been factored in to the market. Clearly the unrest is spreading. It's there in Bahrain. So what if it goes to other oil producing countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq. I think that's the fear here.

That wraps up the latest "Asia Market Daily".

I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

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