Japanese minister denies tragedy cover-up

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The chief government spokesman during Japan's nuclear crisis testified yesterday that he did not deliberately mislead the public about the extent of the accident.

Trade and industry minister Yukio Edano told a parliamentary investigative panel that the government did not fully understand the damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami last year.

Mr Edano has been accused of failing to provide full information about the accident and of downplaying health dangers. He denied there was any cover-up and said he repeatedly used the phrases "no immediate risk" and "just to be safe" in his briefings because that's what officials believed at the time. "I'm sorry for our misjudgement," he said.