News / Asia

Former Japan Premier Sues PM for Libel Over Fukushima Comments

Japan's former prime minister Naoto Kan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Feb. 17, 2012.
Japan's former prime minister Naoto Kan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Feb. 17, 2012.
Reuters
Japan's prime minister at the time of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster said on Tuesday he would sue the current premier, Shinzo Abe, for defamation over an article criticizing the emergency operation he supervised during the crisis.

Naoto Kan, now a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, took the highly unusual step only a few days before an upper house election, on Sunday, in which nuclear power is one of the most hotly debated issues.

Kan has become a vocal opponent of nuclear power in the wake of the disaster, while Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) wants atomic energy to help pull the economy out of stagnation.

About two-thirds of the public opposes nuclear power.

Kan headed the government when an earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and set off the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed, leaking radiation into the sea and air.

In an article from May 20, 2011, still visible on Abe's website, Abe criticized Kan for taking credit for the decision to cool the melting nuclear reactors with seawater. He said Kan had not been aware of the operation at first, then stopped it only to finally restart it after consulting experts.

“The content is based on totally false information. The article has severely damaged my honor,” Kan told a news conference at parliament, adding that he had asked Abe to remove the article several times.

Kan demanded that Abe immediately delete the story, apologize and pay 11 million yen ($110,100) in compensation.

Kan has been credited with playing an important role in stopping the crisis from getting worse by preventing the operator of the crippled plant, Tokyo Electric Power, from abandoning the plant and pulling out its workers.

Cooling the nuclear reactors with seawater was seen as key to preventing the situation at the crippled plant from getting completely out of control.

All of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were hut down after the disaster.

A decision by the previous government to re-start two of them last year was met with the biggest protests in decades and contributed to the government's defeat in a December election.

Still, opinion polls show strong support for the LDP, buoyed by hopes that Abe's hyper-easy monetary policy, public spending and structural reform will bolster growth and jolt Japan out of years of stagnation.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid