Sat, Sep 21, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Fukushima operator ‘sorry’ about prime minister name gaffe

AFP, TOKYO

Red-faced officials issued an embarrassed apology to Japan’s prime minister on Friday after spelling his name wrong during a high-profile tour of the battered Fukushima nuclear plant.

Shinzo Abe was given a specially printed suit to protect him from radiation during the tour on Thursday, on which he was accompanied by a large press pack.

Yet plant operator TEPCO, which has been lambasted internationally for what critics say is its hapless handling of the catastrophe at Fukushima, used the wrong Chinese character for part of Abe’s name.

The first three of the four characters used to write his name were correct; however, the final one represented the same sound, but had a different meaning.

“It was a typing error,” a TEPCO spokesman said. “We are very sorry for the mistake. We sincerely apologize to the prime minister for printing an inaccurate name.”

TEPCO has repeatedly come under fire for its approach to managing the aftermath of the disaster at Fukushima, with a government minister describing it as akin to someone playing “whack-a-mole.”

The giant utility was pilloried on Twitter over the gaffe on Friday.

User @YuriSakamoto tweeted: “They can’t get anything right, can they?”

“Isn’t it a big deal that TEPCO didn’t think twice about misspelling the name of the country’s prime minister and had him wear it,” @PsychoQueen59 said, while @ShoHgo_chirpy said: “TEPCO cannot even check on something as trivial as this.”

Abe’s visit was part of a public relations push that the government has launched to prove the battered plant is no danger to Japan or to the rest of the world.

Earlier this month, the premier, during Tokyo’s successful pitch to host the 2020 Games, told Olympic chiefs: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

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