Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa on Friday withdrew remarks she reportedly made about the government’s radiation decontamination target following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Speaking at a news conference, Marukawa said she apologizes from the bottom of her heart to those suffering from the nuclear accident, including people in Fukushima Prefecture.
She denied that she might step down over the remarks, saying she will continue to fulfill her duties.
Marukawa has been under fire since a newspaper reported remarks she made in a speech in the city of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture on Sunday.
She was quoted as saying the government’s long-term goal of reducing radiation levels near Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to an annual dose of 1 millisievert or less has no scientific grounds.
The goal was set by the government led by the now-opposition Democratic Party of Japan, based on recommendations from the International Commission on Radiation Protection and requests from the Fukushima Prefectural Government.
At Friday’s news conference, Marukawa said that the central government will not drop the decontamination goal.