Justin McCurry
London Guardian
November 2, 2011

It was a simple gulp of water, but one that Japan’s government hopes will carry symbolic importance as it seeks to ease concern over decontamination efforts at the scene of the country’s nuclear crisis.

Yasuhiro Sonoda, an MP in the governing Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), was visibly nervous as his lips met a glass of water collected from inside two reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 44-year-old had been cajoled into making the gesture by journalists who repeatedly asked him to substantiate government claims that decontamination efforts at the plant were progressing.

Sonoda’s hands shook as he half-filled the glass from a plastic bottle, before polishing off the water in two swift gulps. He briefly held the glass up to the cameras, as if to prove that no sleight of hand had been involved.

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