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Japanese Official Learns of Possible US Nuclear Sub Leak from Television


Japan's foreign minister criticized his subordinates Saturday after they failed to notify him for nearly a full day about a potential radioactive leak aboard a nuclear powered U.S. Navy submarine.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura says he learned about the leak from television news reports.

U.S. defense officials revealed Friday that a leak was found on the nuclear-powered submarine Houston after it recently cruised through the Pacific. During the trip, the Houston made stops in Japan, Guam and Hawaii.

Komura says ministry officials did not inform him when they received word from the Pentagon because the leak posed no great risk. But he says his subordinates should have told him sooner so he could have made an announcement.

The delay may be an embarrassment to the government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, coming on the same day he had made changes to his government because of declining public support.

Officials say the amount of radioactivity or radioactive water that could have leaked through a faulty valve would almost be too small to detect.

Relations between the Japanese public and the U.S. military have been strained in recent months by incidents of misbehavior involving U.S. servicemen.

More than 10,000 people demonstrated last month against a U.S. plan to base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the city of Yokosuka.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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