Defamation suit against Abe over Fukushima crisis thrown out: Court — Channel NewsAsia

” TOKYO: A Japanese court on Thursday threw out a defamation suit against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by former premier Naoto Kan, who complained Abe published false claims about Kan’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Kan, prime minister at the time of the 2011 disaster, accused Abe of publishing untrue allegations that Kan had ordered plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to stop pouring seawater onto overheating reactors to cool them and prevent a catastrophe.

The former premier sued Abe, an opposition lawmaker at the time of the crisis, for defamation in 2013.

Kan’s suit alleged that Abe made the claims in his e-magazine two months after the nuclear accident.

The March 11, 2011, quake-tsunami disaster triggered a meltdown at the nuclear power plant, the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl.

Kan, who resigned as prime minister later in 2011, had demanded that Abe apologise and pay ¥11 million (US$89,000) in damages.

A spokesman at the Tokyo District Court told AFP Thursday the lawsuit was “dismissed”, but declined to elaborate further.

In his ruling, presiding judge Norio Nagaya said that what Abe wrote was “within the arena of opinion and commentary”, according to Jiji Press.

Kan faced significant criticism at the time of the accident over his clumsy handling of the crisis, but did not issue such an order to TEPCO.

In the chaos immediately after the crisis, TEPCO executives — not Kan — told the head of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to stop using seawater to cool the overheating reactors.

But former Fukushima plant manager, Masao Yoshida, ignored the order and secretly kept cooling the reactors, widely seen as averting a potential catastrophe.

Abe hailed the court’s decision, calling it “a victory of truth” on his Facebook page.

Kan did not issue an immediate comment on the ruling. ”

source

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