Tokyo/Fukushima: Japan plans to deploy some 25,000 troops as part of a search operation on Monday for people missing from last month's earthquake and tsunami as authorities said immediate danger of blasts or major radiation leaks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has receded.

Thousands of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and US military personnel will launch a third massive search tomorrow for about 12,000 people who still remain unaccounted for after the March 11 magnitude-9 quake and tsunami in Japan's northeast.

During the two-day joint operation, which follows two similar operations earlier this month, the SDF and US military along with Japanese police and Coast Guard will search coastal
and inland areas as well as waters off Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, one of the worst-hit areas, national broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.

The SDF will provide 25,000 members, 90 aircraft, and 50 navy ships during the mission, that will also take place in inland areas and waters off the coast within 30 km of the radiation-leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant. Those areas were not covered in previous operations.

Amid the worst atomic crisis in the country, triggered by last month's mega-quake and tsunami, Japanese authorities have said the immediate danger of blasts or major radiation
leaks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has receded.

The government cannot say the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been completely stabilised, Goshi Hosono, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's special adviser responsible for dealing with the accident, told 'The Wall Street Journal'.

Still, Japan is comfortable with its evacuation policy even after studying various possibilities of deterioration at the plant, he said, adding the immediate danger of explosions or major radiation leaks at the facility has receded.

"There is no way Tokyo or Kyoto will come into harm's way," Hosono told the Journal, six weeks after the twin disaster left nearly 30,000 people dead or unaccounted for.

He said that installing cooling functions outside of the radiation-plant is a component of Japan's effort to stabilise the situation.

"Our goal is very clear: Preventing further spreading of radiation into the atmosphere and into the ocean," Hosono, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, was quoted as saying.

A contamination survey map drawn up by TEPCO shows radiation levels at about 150 locations inside the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to  Kyodo
News.

TEPCO updates the data periodically to help guide workers trying to contain the nuclear crisis at the plant.

Trade Ministers of Japan, China and South Korea met in Tokyo today for talks on a range of issues, including the impact of the killer quake.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda, who chaired the talks, thanked his two counterparts for supporting his country's efforts to recover from the quake
and contain the nuclear crisis, while stressing the importance of further enhancing economic exchanges among the three major Asian economies through trade and investment, Kyodo said.

The meeting is aimed at laying the groundwork for a two-day trilateral summit to be held in Tokyo from May 21, during which cooperation in ensuring disaster preparedness and safety of nuclear power generation will be high on the agenda.

The Japanese government has said that it is taking every possible measure to make sure no contaminated farm products will be sold at home or abroad under its "stringent criteria," but many countries have set import restrictions or conducted radiation screening of Japanese imports.

China has officially banned food and agricultural imports from Fukushima, Tokyo and 10 other prefectures in Japan, and requires items from the prefectures other than the 12 to include documents issued by the Japanese government such as certificates for radiation inspection and places of origin.

South Korea has suspended imports of spinach and some other items from Fukushima and four other prefectures nearby, and plans to seek similar government-issued radiation safety
documentation from May 1 on imports of food, according to the Japanese farm ministry.

(Agencies)