Japan Fires Three Top Officials Over Handling of Nuclear Crisis

Posted August 3rd, 2011 at 11:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Japan's government says it is firing three high-ranking officials in connection with their handling of the crisis at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant.

Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said Thursday he will replace the head of Japan's nuclear safety agency, the head of the energy agency and a vice minister in his own ministry. Kaieda said previously he intends to step down himself in the near future to take responsibility for errors in the handling of the crisis.

The firings follow revelations that government officials have tried to secretly manipulate public opinion at public seminars to sustain support for the use of nuclear power. The government agencies have been accused of having too close a relationship with the nuclear power industry.

Kaieda made his own offer to resign in response to missteps that caused confusion over the re-opening of nuclear power plants across the country, several of which have been closed since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daichi plant, causing meltdowns at three of its six reactors. Engineers have been struggling ever since to bring the reactors to a safe state and halt the leakage of radiation into the air, sea and ground.