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Environment minister withdraws radiation remark, apologizes to Fukushima residents


Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa retracted her remark about the government having “no scientific grounds” for its radiation decontamination target in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying she wanted to rebuild trust with local residents.
As the minister in charge of overseeing the decontamination efforts in Fukushima Prefecture, Marukawa, 45, said Feb. 12 she wants to “sincerely apologize to residents in Fukushima.”
During a speech in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on Feb. 7, she labeled the government’s long-term goal of reducing radiation levels near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to an annual dose of 1 millisievert or less as having “absolutely no scientific grounds.”
A local newspaper, The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, picked up the story and reported her comments on Feb. 8, which she promptly denied having made.
At Diet sessions on Feb. 9 and 10, Marukawa stated that she had “no recollection of using such wording” in the speech.
Nevertheless, she told the news conference on the evening of Feb. 12 that she had decided of her own volition to “retract the remark in order to maintain a relationship of trust with residents in Fukushima.”
Marukawa went on to say that the government’s decontamination target is “indeed scientific in the sense that it was set as a result of thorough discussions by scientists.”
Her acknowledgment of making the faux pas will likely prompt the opposition camp to go on the offensive during Diet sessions in the coming week. For the time being, at least, Marukawa is standing firm. She said she has no intention of stepping down and wants to continue fulfilling her duties.
The decontamination goal was set by the Democratic Party of Japan-led government of the time on the basis of recommendations by the International Commission on Radiological Protection in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
After the newspaper covered her remarks, Marukawa told reporters on Feb. 8 that she did not remember using such wording as “scientifically ungrounded.” She repeated the plea at Lower House Budget Committee sessions on Feb. 9 and 10.
During a regular news conference after the Feb. 12 morning Cabinet meeting, the minister finally acknowledged the possibility of making the remark.
She eventually retracted the comment later the day after obtaining a memorandum of her speech and confirming the content with attendants.


February 13, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 |

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