Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan sued Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday for defamation, saying he had no grounds to accuse him of mismanaging the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Kan accused Abe of critically damaging his image as well as that of the Democratic Party of Japan and demanded ¥11 million in compensation. He also wants the remarks deleted from Abe’s website and an online apology posted on the site for two years.
According to the former prime minister, Abe criticized Kan’s handling of the nuclear crisis in his email newsletter dated May 20, 2011, based on false information. The crisis started that March 11 when tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake slammed into the nuclear plant.
The newsletter is archived on Abe’s website.
“Abe has ignored my relentless requests to retrieve the posting and apologize,” Kan told a news conference. “He has left them online even during this Upper House election campaign. His false accusation defames me and harms the credibility of the DPJ and the DPJ government at the time.”
Kan charged that by keeping “erroneous” information on the website, Abe is affecting the fairness of the election.
Kan was prime minister in a DPJ-led administration when three reactors at the plant suffered meltdowns.
Abe declined comment about the lawsuit.
The dispute started more than two years ago when Abe, then a rank-and-file member of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, sent out the email newsletter in which he criticized Kan for fabricating a fact regarding how he handled the crisis.
The email states that Kan has been praised for making a decision to start pumping seawater into reactor 1 on March 12, but he actually ordered the operation to stop before Tokyo Electric Power Co. restarted the injection.
Abe also called for Kan’s resignation in the newsletter.
Tepco did order plant chief Masao Yoshida to stop the seawater injection and both Tepco and the government believed the water was turned off for 55 minutes. But Yoshida later confessed that he only pretended to obey the instruction from Tepco headquarters and kept the seawater running to cool down the reactor.
Prior to Tuesday’s legal action, Kan admitted he only gave Abe an ultimatum only online and not in other forms.
“I repeatedly asked Abe on my blog to delete the information. I can’t imagine an avid online user like Abe would not get my message,” Kan said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.