Japan fires senior nuke officials amid scandals

The move is the latest attempt by Japan`s PM and his Cabinet to show they can push reforms.

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan`s administration announced on Thursday it was firing three senior nuclear policy officials amid scandals suggesting Japan`s government had grown too cozy with the nuclear power industry.

The move is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Kan and his Cabinet to shake off criticism they have not dealt sternly enough with nuclear power operators and to show they can push reforms deemed necessary after Japan`s March 11 earthquake and tsunami touched off the world`s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said the shakeup will involve three senior officials - the head of the Energy Agency, the head of the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency and a vice minister at the trade and industry ministry.

“We want to refresh and revitalise the ministry,” Mr Kaieda said. The three posts are under his supervision.

Japan`s post-tsunami handling of the nuclear crisis has been hit recently by scandals over allegations that the government was too friendly with the nuclear industry and tried to secretly manipulate public discussions in favour of nuclear power at a number of seminars held before the current crisis began. The shakeup was seen as an attempt to calm that uproar.

But Prime Minister Kan`s government continues to face questions about its response to the crisis and even about how long Prime Minister Kan will be able to remain in office. The growing disarray in Prime Minister Kan`s administration was emphasised recently when his Cabinet was unwilling to unify itself behind Prime Minister Kan`s call for Japan to completely wean itself off nuclear power. Prime Minister Kan had to later step back and explain the comment was a `personal` opinion.

Bureau Report