Japan refused US offer of help

A 'frustrated' US wanted to place nuclear experts in the prime minister's office in Tokyo after the Fukushima disaster last year but Japan refused citing sovereignty fears, a minister said on Sunday.

'There was a request from US Ambassador (John) Roos that they hoped to station their nuclear engineers at the prime minister's office' to help deal with the crisis, Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretary at the time, told a parliament panel on the nuclear disaster.

'But from the viewpoint of Japan's sovereignty, I declined to accept the offer,' said Edano, who is currently the industry minister.

Edano was replying to a question by a member of the panel, who cited US documents that showed a Washington offer to make engineers available on-hand for then Prime Minister Naoto Kan was refused by the Japanese side.

The offer was made on 14 March, three days after the 9.0-magnitude quake that caused a tsunami and crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

About 19,000 people were left dead or missing after the record quake-tsunami.

Kan stepped down five months later, partly over criticism of his handling of the aftermath of the triple disaster.

'The Americans were visibly being frustrated, and I was frustrated, too, as arrangements to share any information (on the unfolding nuclear crisis) were not going very well,' Edano said. 'Then there was the offer,' he added.
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