Nuclear Adviser to Japan’s Prime Minister Quits Over Crisis

Nuclear Adviser to Japan’s Prime Minister Quits Over Crisis

By Naoko Fujimura and Michio Nakayama -Apr 30, 2011 2:34 AM PT

Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power

An aerial handout photograph taken on Thursday, March 24, 2011, from an unmanned airplane, shows Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. Source: Air Photo Service via Bloomberg

A nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned because of a misunderstanding with the government over setting radiation limits in schools.

The government accepted the resignation of Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the University of Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a press conference in the capital today. The adviser disagreed with the maximum annual radiation exposure allowed in elementary schools, Edano said, adding there was a “misunderstanding.”

Japan is struggling to contain the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Four reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant were damaged by hydrogen blasts after a 9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami March 11 knocked out backup power and cooling systems, and radiation leaks have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. At least one worker at the plant has been exposed to radiation levels near the maximum allowed by the government, Tokyo Electric said today.

Kosako resigned in protest against the government’s “impromptu” handling of the crisis and delays in bringing the situation under control, Kyodo News reported, citing comments made by the adviser at a press conference yesterday. Kosako disagreed with the maximum annual radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts allowed by the government in elementary schools, according to Edano.

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