Edano denies flying family abroad

by Masami Ito

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano flatly denied rumors Monday that he sent his family abroad to protect them from radiation exposure when workers began to battle the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis.

According to Internet rumors, Edano told a news conference last week that his wife and twin sons in kindergarten were “on a trip” overseas. But no such comments were made to the press, and Edano brushed off what was termed hearsay at a news conference Monday morning, saying his family has been in Tokyo or in his electoral district in Saitama Prefecture.

“Ever since the earthquake, my family has either been in the lodging for Diet members in Tokyo or in Omiya for the local election. They have not been anywhere else at all,” Edano said.

The top government spokesman has spent the last few weeks reporting to the public on the radiation hitting the environment, food and water and generally issuing assurances that is poses “no immediate health risk.” But the rumor triggered angry suspicions he was telling the public one thing and his family another.

Edano said he has also been telling his family exactly the same thing.

“I have not been telling the people of Japan and those in Tokyo that there is something for them to be worried about and that goes for my family as well,” Edano said.

He also pointed out that his wife had been instructed by his children’s kindergarten teacher to bring drinking water in thermos bottles, but he told her that was unnecessary. “If they need to bring water in a thermos, tap water is fine,” he said he told his wife.