Japan PM's Fukushima remark backfires at home
TOKYO (AP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reassurance to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that contaminated water leaks from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant are "under control" has backfired at home.
Just hours before Tokyo was chosen on Sept 7 to host the 2020 Olympics, Abe gave an emphatic speech declaring that radioactive contaminants from the leakage had no impact to waters outside the bay near the plant and "will never do any damage to Tokyo." The Japanese media and opposition lawmakers have suggested that Abe's comments were overkill.
"Contaminated water 'control' running astray," the nationwide Asahi newspaper said in its front-page top story on Saturday. "Credibility of prime minister's message to overseas is shaking." Hikariko Ono of the prime minister's office defended Abe's pledge, citing offshore monitoring results showing undetectable radioactivity. The government has stepped up efforts to contain the leaks.
In a meeting with opposition Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers on Friday, senior Tepco official Kazuhiko Yamashita said the water situation was "not under control," appearing to contradict Abe. DPJ leaders said they will demand Abe clarify his IOC speech.