Officials showed reporters around the plant for the first time since March when the natural disasters triggered a meltdown in three of the plant's reactors, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
Martin Fackler, the New York Times' Tokyo bureau chief, said the site was strewn with piles of rubble virtually untouched since the tsunami struck.
He said: "There's debris all around where the reactors are – twisted metal, crumpled trucks, large water tanks that have been dented and bent.
"You can see that this stuff has been strewn around and it has not been picked up and it's been there for eight months.
"So I think that more than anything is a testament to how difficult a time they've had in trying to get those reactors under control."
Radiation levels were still "very high", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The visitors all wore full protective suits, double layers of gloves and plastic boot covers and hair nets, and carried respiration masks and radiation detectors, as the site remains highly radioactive.
The tour was aimed to show that the situation at the plant was slowly improving. The Japanese authorities have previously denied media requests to visit the site, on the grounds that radiation levels were too high and it could hinder the clean-up operation.
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