Nuclear Crisis in Fukushima Japan Update

Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motohisa Ikeda, 70, who heads a task force in the northeastern Japan city of Fukushima dealing with the nuclear crisis, has been absent since May 19 due to illness, industry minister Banri Kaieda said Tuesday.

Kaieda announced the absence of Ikeda at a meeting of a House of Representatives special committee on reconstruction after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which caused the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, claimed that the government has kept quiet on Ikeda’s absence.
The task force is now headed by Eiji Hiraoka from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Kaieda said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the meeting that the task force should be managed by a senior vice minister or parliamentary secretary, indicating that he will consult with Kaieda over the choice of a new head.

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