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General News of Wednesday, 23 March 2011

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Ghana embassy closed in Tokyo

Japan’s nuclear emergency has led Ghana and 24 other embassies to temporarily shut their doors in Tokyo, Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Japan estimated the economic cost of the earthquake and tsunami at up to 25 trillion yen (218 billion euros).

The foreign ministry's press division said the following countries had closed their doors: Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Kosovo, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama and Switzerland.

Switzerland has temporarily moved its embassy to Osaka, citing the "very uncertain" situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The US State Department last week authorised the "voluntary departure" of embassy family members in Tokyo, including relocation to other areas within Japan.

Japan's estimate of rebuilding costs is the highest so far, boosted by deepening fears of radiation which hit share prices Wednesday.

The World Bank has said Japan needs up to five years to rebuild.

Fears of contamination of Japanese food led the US to impose a ban on the import of dairy and fresh produce from areas around the the Fukushima plant on Wednesday.

Sales of Japanese produce have slumped in Asia and South Korea is considering a ban.

Smoke again disrupted efforts to regain control of the plant Wednesday. A column of dark smoke rose from the number three unit but engineers are reported to be close to restoring a water pump there.

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