Saturday, August 20, 2011

Former U.S. envoy critical of Japan's nuclear crisis response

Kevin Maher, a former State Department official, says the U.S. worried about Prime Minister Naoto Kan's lack of leadership after the earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear crisis.

By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

August 20, 2011
Reporting from Seoul—
Relations between the United States and Japan, already strained over the delayed relocation of an American military base on Okinawa, received no help this week when a retired U.S. envoy publicly criticized Tokyo's initial response in March to the nation's nuclear crisis.

Comments by Kevin Maher, a former director of the State Department's Japan Office, shed light on Washington's mind-set during the early days of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Maher said U.S. officials worried about the lack of leadership shown by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to partial reactor meltdowns at the coastal plant.

At one point, Maher said, the Obama administration considered a worst-case scenario of evacuating tens of thousands of U.S. citizens from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

"There was nobody in charge," Maher said Thursday at a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. "Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say, 'I'm going to take responsibility and make decisions.' " Read More

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