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Japanese Industry Minister Fires Three Nuclear Officials, Plans To Resign

Japan is firing three top nuclear energy officials, nearly five months after the country suffered the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident of 1986. And Banri Kaieda, the industry minister in charge of energy policy, said that he will resign as soon as he replaces the officials.

"I'm planning to breathe fresh air into the ministry with a large-scale reshuffle," Kaieda said at a news conference. "I'll have new people rebuild the ministry."

Filing a report for Newscast, Frank Langfitt says that the Japanese government is widely seen as having mishandled the catastrophe:

Earlier this week, the highest radiation levels of the crisis were recorded in Fukushima, which continues to leak. Officials hope to shut down the reactors by January. Meanwhile, public faith in the government and the country's nuclear industry continues to slide. Two-thirds of Japan's reactors are now shut down.

Last month, a utility was forced to apologize after it urged staff members to send e-mails posing as ordinary citizens calling for the government to re-start plants. Reporters here revealed that Japan's nuclear safety watchdog had urged utility workers to plant positive questions about nuclear power at a government forum.

Also today, Straight.com, a Vancouver news site, posted a story skeptical of the Canadian government's claims that radiation from the Japanese catastrophe did not pose a risk after it drifted across the Pacific Ocean to Canada.

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