Mgr Sarah will remain in Japan until 16 May. He said that he wants the Japanese people to feel the Pope’s closeness, prayers and help. The President of Cor Unum will bring Benedict XVI’s embrace to the families of all the victims, displaced persons and all the volunteers who are working tirelessly to rebuild the affected area, including Caritas Japan.
Tomorrow he will travel to Saitama where he will visit homeless shelters set up by the Church. In the afternoon, he will be in Tokyo where, together with the Japanese bishops, he will celebrate a thanksgiving Mass for the beatification of John Paul II.
On Sunday, he will be in Sendai, the epicentre of the disaster, where he will preside the Mass at the Cathedral.
A visit and a show of concrete solidarity by the Church are important, Fr Brambillasca said. “I recently was in Sendai. Material aid is pouring in, but now people need spiritual assistance, from priests and people of faith,” he explained, “to help local residents and the local Church.
Meanwhile, the government today announced that it would help TEPCO pay compensation for damages caused by the release of radioactive material from the Fukushima plant.
The price tag for the disaster will run in the tens of billions of dollars, and the government wants to prevent the country’s largest utility company from going under.
The authorities are concerned that TEPCO’s woes might also push up electricity costs and cause power blackouts.
In exchange for help, the power company would reduce its prices and allow for close inspections of its facilities.
The government has agreed to use taxpayer's money to help pay a bill that some reports say may be more than US$ 60 billion.
Following the 11 March quake-cum-tsunami, the Fukushima plant began leaking heavy amounts of radioactivity, contaminating the surrounding area and farmland.
More than 80,000 local residents living within a 20km radius of the plant were evacuated from their homes.
TEPCO said it may take up to nine months to achieve a cold shutdown at the plant; however, it has not yet come up with an overall estimated cost for the disaster.
The power company will also start making initial compensation payments by the end of May to farmers and fishermen affected by its crippled nuclear plant.