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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Fukushima town protests Abe's global promise on crippled plant: reports
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 21, 2013


Fukushima operator 'sorry' for Japan PM name gaffe
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 20, 2013 - Red-faced officials issued an embarrassed apology to Japan's prime minister on Friday after spelling his name wrong during a high-profile tour of the battered Fukushima nuclear plant.

Shinzo Abe was given a specially-printed suit to protect him from radiation during the tour Thursday, on which he was accompanied by a large press pack.

But plant operator TEPCO, which has been lambasted internationally for what critics say is its hapless handling of the catastrophe at Fukushima, used the wrong Chinese character for part of the PM's name.

The first three of the four characters used to write his name were correct, however the final one represented the same sound but had a different meaning.

"It was a typing error," said a TEPCO spokesman. "We are very sorry for the mistake. We sincerely apologise to the prime minister for printing an inaccurate name."

TEPCO has repeatedly come under fire for its approach to managing the aftermath of the disaster at Fukushima, with a government minister describing it as akin to someone playing "whack-a-mole".

The giant utility was pilloried on Twitter over the gaffe on Friday.

User @YuriSakamoto tweeted "They can't get anything right, can they?"

"Isn't it a big deal that TEPCO didn't think twice about misspelling the name of the country's prime minister and had him wear it" said @PsychoQueen59, while @ShoHgo_chirpy said: "TEPCO cannot even check on something as trivial as this."

Abe's visit was part of a public relations push the government has launched to prove the battered plant is no danger to Japan or to the rest of the world.

Earlier this month the premier, during Tokyo's successful pitch to host the 2020 Games, told Olympic chiefs: "Let me assure you, the situation is under control".

A Japanese town abandoned after the Fukushima nuclear accident has protested Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's global promise that the situation of the crippled plant was "under control", papers reported Saturday.

The town assembly of Namie, half of which sits within the 20-kilometre (12-mile) zone around the nuclear plant, unanimously adopted a statement of protest against Abe's remarks on Friday, saying his comments went against facts on the ground, the Asahi and the Mainichi papers said.

The statement said some 300 tons of contaminated water is estimated to be leaking from the plant everyday, which is "a serious situation", and that toxic water is "far from being controlled or blocked completely," the Mainichi quoted the statement as saying.

"Members of the town cannot help feeling furious at the government and TEPCO which neglected Fukushima," the statement said, referring to Tokyo Electric Power, the company that runs the plant, the report said.

Representatives of Namie town were not immediately available for comment at the weekend.

When the 2011 tsunami crashed into Japan, Fukushima's cooling systems were knocked out causing three reactors to melt down and spew radioactive particles into the air, soil and sea. Namie's entire population of 21,000 was forced to flee.

But speaking to Olympic chiefs in Buenos Aires just ahead of a decision to award the Games to Tokyo, Abe said of the plant: "Let me assure you, the situation is under control."

Some critics and experts say Abe's gloss on the disaster is bordering on the dishonest -- a senior TEPCO executive flatly contradicted the PM earlier this month.

Around 300 tonnes of mildly contaminated groundwater is entering the ocean every day having passed under the reactors, TEPCO says.

Abe visited the plant on Thursday, part of a campaign aimed at reassuring the world about the state of the power station, more than two-and-a-half years after it was battered by the huge tsunami.

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