11 Sep 2011

New trade minister resigns

6:27 am on 11 September 2011

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister has resigned after barely a week in office.

Yoshio Hachiro stepped down after criticism over a gaffe about radiation at the Fukushima nuclear plant which was hit by the tsunami after an earthquake on 11 March.

He called the area a ''town of death''.

Japanese media reported that Mr Hachiro also attempted to rub his jacket against a reporter and said, ''I'll give you radiation'', after having visited the plant.

The BBC reports the comments were widely seen as insensitive and prompted calls by opposition parties for him to resign.

He was appointed on 2 September by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda

Mr Hachiro said late on Saturday that Mr Noda had accepted his resignation.

He said he had been trying to convey the seriousness of the situation with his remarks.

His departure is viewed as a major embarrassment for Mr Noda, who took office only last week. Mr Noda is Japan's sixth prime minister in five years.

Sunday marks the six month anniversary of the disaster, in which some 20,000 people were killed.