TOKYO • Japan's chief atomic energy regulator has acknowledged it was inappropriate to say it would be "much better" if North Korea dropped a missile on Tokyo rather than on a nuclear plant.
Mr Shunichi Tanaka, head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), found himself in hot water on Thursday after he spoke to people living near a recently restarted reactor.
"If it were me, I think it would be much better to drop (a missile) on central Tokyo," said Mr Tanaka.
He was speaking about a possible North Korean missile attack on a nuclear facility, having reportedly been asked by an audience member what measures were in place to deal with such a strike.
An NRA spokesman told Agence France-Presse that Mr Tanaka was quick to add that he was only joking.
But he later told reporters the comment was "inappropriate", the spokesman said yesterday.
Mr Tanaka had spoken in Fukui prefecture, some 350km west of Tokyo, where a nuclear reactor was restarted in May.
JUST A JOKE
If it were me, I think it would be much better to drop (a missile) on central Tokyo
MR SHUNICHI TANAKA, head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, speaking to people living near a recently restarted reactor on Thursday. The comment, said in jest, drew much criticism and he later admitted it was inappropriate.
Mr Tanaka's gaffe followed remarks last month by a Japanese prefectural governor who said North Koreans should be "starved to death" if Pyongyang were to target his region with atomic weapons. He retracted his remarks.