TOKYO – Japan's new trade minister has apologized for calling the area around the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant "a town of death."
Yoshio Hachiro took office just a week ago and made the comment Friday while describing his visit a day earlier to inspect damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. He apologized after the remark was criticized as insensitive to residents who had to evacuate homes because of radiation leaking from the plant.
About 80,000 people fled an evacuation zone around the plant, and some may not be able to return for years because of radiation dangers. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami also left about 21,000 people dead and missing along Japan's northern coast, but no deaths have been blamed on radiation.