The Japanese government is to get directly involved in containing rising levels of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced today that the government would no longer rely solely on the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.
An earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi station, which lies 220km northeast of Tokyo, in 2011.
Toxic water that has plagued the clean-up from the start now threatens to flood out of the plant's confines into the Pacific Ocean.
The Fukushima disaster is the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, and the delays in getting to grips with the clean-up have caused global concern.
"The contaminated water problem is one that the Japanese people have a high level of interest in and is an urgent issue to deal with," Mr Abe said after attending a meeting of the government's task force on the disaster.
"Rather than relying on Tokyo Electric, the government will take measures," he said.
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi has been ordered to urgently deal with the water situation and ensure Tokyo Electric takes appropriate action to deal with the clean-up.
The clean-up is expected to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion (€8bn).
The Japanese leader stopped short of pledging funds to deal with the issue.
However, the ministry has requested a budget allocation to help address the water problem, an official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Nikkei newspaper said the funds would be used to freeze the soil to prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor buildings.
The government moves appear to be in response to warnings by industry experts that Tokyo Electric's failure to address the problem questioned its ability to safely decommission the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The utility has been widely castigated for its failure to prepare for the massive 2011 tsunami and earthquake that devastated the plant.
It has also been criticised for its inept response to the disaster and for covering up shortcomings.