TOKYO - Japan’s new trade minister apologized yesterday for calling the now-desolate area around the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant “a town of death,’’ a remark seen as insensitive to residents who had to evacuate because of radiation leaks.
Yoshio Hachiro took office just a week ago as a new government replaced leaders seen as unable to move Japan past the triple disasters of six months ago. His comment came as he described his visit a day earlier to inspect damage and cheer workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
“Sorry to say, there was not a single soul in areas around the plant,’’ Hachiro told reporters. “Literally it was like a town of death.’’
Although the March 11 earthquake and tsunami left about 21,000 people dead and missing along Japan’s northeast coast, no deaths have been blamed on radiation.