Kan nuclear adviser fed up, quits
Tokyo professor calls response impromptu, says short-term thinking resulted in delays
Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended his government's handling of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant on Saturday, a day after one of his advisers on the emergency vowed to resign in protest at what he called the state's lax response.
Kan told the Lower House Budget Committee the departure of Toshiso Kosako, a professor on antiradiation safety measures at the University of Tokyo's graduate school who assumed the advisory post March 16, is extremely unfortunate.
"We are dealing with the crisis based on the advice that comes as a result of discussions by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan. Our handling of the crisis has never been impromptu," Kan said.
Kosako told the government Friday he will resign as Kan's adviser.
"The government has belittled laws and taken measures only for the present moment, resulting in delays in bringing the situation under control," Kosako said.
It is extremely rare for an intellectual adviser appointed by the prime minister to resign in protest at measures the government has taken.
Kosako told reporters at the Diet on Friday it is problematic for the government to have delayed the release of forecasts on the spread of radiation from the Fukushima plant, done by the Nuclear Safety Technology Center's computer system, called the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI).
He also blasted the government for hiking the upper limit for emergency workers seeking to bring the crippled plant under control to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts after the crisis broke out.
"The prime minister's office and administrative organizations have made impromptu policy decisions, like playing a whack-a-mole game, ignoring proper procedures," the radiation expert said.
He also urged the government to stiffen guidelines on upper limits on radiation levels the education ministry recently announced as allowable levels for elementary school grounds in Fukushima Prefecture, where the radiation-leaking plant is located.
The guidelines announced by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry "are inconsistent with internationally commonsensical figures and they were determined by the administration to serve its interests," he said.
As the only country to experience an atomic bombing, Japan has long had a powerful antinuclear movement, and such protests have become louder.
Yoshiko Nakamura, 50, a part-time worker, was among 450 who gathered Saturday in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. The demonstrators beat drums, shouted "No more nukes" and held banners that read "Electricity in Tokyo, sacrifice in Fukushima."
"We knew all along nuclear power was dangerous. I just didn't know how to express myself," said Nakamura, taking part in her second demonstration in two weeks. "This is a great opportunity to send a message and voice my fears."
Such demonstrations have become more frequent, including during the Golden Week holidays, which continue through the weekend and this week. "What I had feared might happen has become reality," said Kenji Kitamura, a 48-year-old office worker. "It is outrageous children are being exposed to such high levels of radiation."
Japanese Radiation Adviser Quits in Rebuke to Government
A key Japanese adviser on radiation leaks at the country's disabled Fukushima nuclear power facility has quit in protest over the government's handling of the disaster.
The adviser, Toshiso Kosako, a radiation safety expert at the University of Tokyo, said the government-set limits for radiation exposure at schools near the nuclear site are too high. At a tearful news conference late Friday, Kosako said he could "not allow this as a scholar."
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan appointed Kosako to advise the government after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. In quitting his position, Kosako criticized the government for what he said is its "impromptu" handling of the crisis and slow pace of bringing the nuclear facility's radiation leaks under control.
A new survey released Saturday by the Kyodo news agency showed that the Japanese public is growing increasingly disenchanted with Kan's leadership in dealing with the recovery effort, with about three-fourths of those polled saying they are dissatisfied. That negative view of Kan was up markedly from a similar survey in late March. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said he should resign immediately.
Meanwhile, the lower house of the Japanese parliament passed an emergency budget of more than $48 billion as a down payment on the rebuilding effort in the country's northeastern sector devastated by the twin natural disasters. The upper house of parliament is expected to approve the spending plan on Monday.
The emergency budget is likely to be followed by other spending packages to cover the overall reconstruction. The region's damage has been estimated at more than $300 billion.