Japan minister resigns over Fukushima comments

Japan`s economy, trade and industry minister resigned on Saturday over his comments about radiation contamination in crisis-hit Fukushima, Japanese media reported.

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2011, 22:07 PM IST

Tokyo: Japan`s economy, trade and industry
minister resigned on Saturday over his comments about radiation
contamination in crisis-hit Fukushima, Japanese media
reported.

Yoshio Hachiro, appointed only a week ago in the new
government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, provoked anger
when he called the area around the crippled Fukushima nuclear
power plant a "shi no machi" or a "town of death".

Kyodo News reported that Noda had accepted Hachiro`s
resignation, which came a day before Japan was set to mark six
months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left
20,000 dead or missing and sparked the nuclear crisis at
Fukushima.

Witnesses have also said that after his visit to the
nuclear plant, Hachiro made as if he was rubbing his jacket
against a journalist, while making a remark to the effect that
"I will infect you with radiation."

Hachiro`s remark and apparent joking about radiation were
widely seen as insensitive and immediately prompted opposition
parties to demand Noda dismiss him.

"If you were thinking about the feelings of Fukushima
local residents, you wouldn`t possibly act like that," said
Shigeru Ishiba, a senior member of the leading opposition
Liberal Democratic Party.

The "town of death" comment was seen as particularly
outrageous because the government cannot provide evacuated
residents with a firm timetable for their return.

PTI