Nearly 25,000 Japanese troops were scouring the country's wreckage-strewn northeastern coast on Monday. Soldiers combed through the rubble while navy boats and divers looked in the water.
Around 12,000 people are missing and presumed dead in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. More than 14,300 people have been confirmed dead.
With waters receding, officials hoped the troops, backed by police, coast guard and U.S. forces, would make significant progress. By Monday evening, they had found 38 bodies, the military said.
Meantime, Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan and member of his nuclear crisis management task force, slammed the operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., for its handling of the crisis.
The plant was not properly prepared for the tsunami or for the loss of power that followed, he said. And TEPCO delayed the crucial venting of radioactive steam that built up immense pressure and may have contributed to hydrogen explosions that made the crisis even worse, he said. All those issues are being investigated, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.